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Uber come under fire charging disabled people wait times

person in a wheelchair being pushed into the back of an uber
person in a wheelchair being pushed into the back of an uber Image credit:

Uber have come under fire for being accused of overcharging disabled passengers on their journeys.

The US Justice Department (DoJ) is suing the taxi company claiming their “wait time” should be exempt for travellers with a disability who need more than two minutes to sit in the vehicle and the service must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Uber have stated their wait time does not imply to disabled people and they have already received refunds.

Kristen Clarke, assistance attorney general for the DoJ's civil rights division said the lawsuit aims to send a "powerful message that Uber cannot penalise passengers with disabilities simply because they need more time to get into a car".

She added companies such as Uber which provide transport services "must ensure equal access for all people, including those with disabilities.”

But Uber argued they have breached terms laid out in the ADA.

A spokesman for the company said the lawsuit was “surprising and disappointing”.

He said Uber wait time fees were "never intended for riders who are ready at their designated pickup location but need more time to get into the car” and when a disabled customer alerted the company they had been charged for a wait time they have been refunded.

The spokesperson added: After a recent change last week, now any rider who certifies they are disabled will have fees automatically waived."

Uber came under attack earlier this year when a woman with vision loss was refused 14 rides in San Francisco which cost the company $1.1m in compensation.

Maria Town, president and chief executive of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), who has cerebral palsy, told the BBC it is not unusual for disabled people to face a "disproportionate economic burden, often as a result of realities they cannot change nor control".

Town said people with disabilities have to pay more for services such as health care, grocery deliveries and rideshare wait times.

She believes scrapping wait fees for disabled passengers would be a "step in the right direction toward economic equality and dignity".

Town stated it was unfair of Uber to expect all disabled people to use its wheelchair-accessible services or Uber Assist.

"It's not fair on a number of fronts - there's a limited supply of these cars on the road, but also people with disabilities may not want assistance," she said.

Uber introduced their wait time fees in 2016.