OpEd in Response To @Ride_Austin
One million rideshare trips — and still no equitable service for people with disabilities
In the spirit of that lovely metaphorical phrase, “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” — I say thank you to HERO app for the drill down on Austin’s Transportation Network Companies (TNC) — albeit the slightly subtle undertone of self-promotion for the HERO app was not lost on me….Business is business and I won’t criticize you for self-promos — just go easy on the humble selfies….
Now For the Down and Dirty
It’s been about four months since this story was first published. If HERO app hasn’t launched yet, listen up and take notice. You wouldn’t want to exclude an entire group of Austinites — would you?
The Big Cluster “F”
Take it from Uber and the other TNC’s which are currently drowning in litigation, bleeding out profits. Uber and the other TNCs that have discriminated against citizens with disabilities are now frantically trying to climb out of some nasty-ass funk they buried themselves in by refusing to include people with disabilities in their service delivery models and strategies. Ignoring and excluding an entire population is never the right thing to do.
That’s It — That’s All You Learned After One Million Rides!
I was surprised. No, to be frank, I was more than surprised, I was pissed-off after reading Andy Tryba and Marisa Goldenberg’s recent blog, “Top 5 things we learned from our first million RideAustin rideshare trips.
I couldn’t believe after providing ONE MILLION RIDES — Andy and Marisa failed to learn anything about equitable public service delivery. Nothing. Read the blog yourself. Nothing. There’s no mention of people with disabilities or anything about finding solutions to the HUGE DISCRIMINATION BUNNY in the room!
We Don’t See You. We Don’t Hear You. You Don’t Exist
By ignoring the needs of Austinites with disabilities, Ride|Austin is basically saying, “You Are Not Important Enough.”
Slap, Slap, Slap in Your Face
I’m not sure if the “5 things Andy Tryba and Marisa Goldenberg learned” were listed by importance or priority. For the record, this is what they listed under NUMBER ONE (1): “Following local laws doesn’t ruin rideshare (at least in Austin).”
— Really…really? What a total slap-in-the-face to the City of Austin and Austinites with disabilities.
Ride|Austin, like the other (10) Rideshare, Transportation Apps and TNC’s in Austin, are NOT following local laws/city codes that regulate service delivery to people with disabilities.
I’ve listed the relevant codes at the very bottom of this blog — take a look and tell me if you disagree.
To be fair, the City of Austin has some exposure here. The City has taken no action to my knowledge to enforce the codes and local laws pertaining to accessible rides and service delivery to residents with disabilities. This is not acceptable. The City of Austin has a responsibility to safeguard its citizens from exclusion, discrimination, and abuse.
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
I want my hometown to be, “The Most Livable, Accessible and Inclusive City in the U.S.” — so I’ve written some guidance to help The City of Austin and the TNC’s solve the barriers that might be preventing equitable service to people with disabilities.
You can read my advice by clicking on this link. — And really, despite the title, this blog has real solutions for TNC’s : “Why Are Austin’s Ridesharing Providers Purposefully Excluding People With Disabilities?”
You can also access this blog by pasting this link into your browser: http://bit.ly/2m60zeh
Darren Bates is a lifelong champion of equality, inclusion, and social justice for people with disabilities and other diverse, underrepresented, and historically marginalized populations. Darren is internationally recognized as one of the most innovative and knowledgeable Thought Leaders in the field of Global Inclusion.
Darren offers accessibility and inclusion training, strategic consulting, and professional speaking services through Darren Bates, LLC.
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A) Within six months of obtaining a TNC operating authority, a TNC shall implement an accessibility plan approved by the director. If a TNC has an existing accessibility plan on file in another jurisdiction, the TNC must adapt that plan for use in the City. very TNC operating in in Austin is required to include an accessible service request option in its app within three months of launching service delivery.
B) Within three months of obtaining a TNC operating authority, an accessible service request indicator must be available on the app. If a driver cannot provide a passenger a requested accessible ride, the TNC must identify an alternative transportation arrangement for the passenger.
C) Service animals must be reasonably accommodated by TNC drivers. If a
service animal cannot be reasonably accommodated by a driver, the TNC
must identify an alternative transportation arrangement for the passenger
and service animal.
D) A TNC may not allow its drivers to refuse to accept a passenger who is
disabled, or to charge a higher fare or additional fee to a person who is
disabled, based on the person’s disability, use of a support animal,
wheelchair, crutches, or other mobility assistance device. Should
exposure to a support animal cause a TNC driver an undue health burden,
the TNC shall provide an alternate driver for the passenger with the
E) A TNC shall conduct outreach events to community organizations with
ADA-compliant vehicles to publicize the TNC’s need for ADA vehicles
and drivers with the goal of providing services to all passengers. A TNC
shall report back to the City on the results of this outreach quarterly.
F) A TNC shall conduct outreach events to communities that are of lower
social economic strata without adequate transit options with the goal of
increased access to transportation options: The TNC shall report to the
City the effectiveness of this outreach quarterly.
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