MIAMI-DADE COUNTY MUST ENSURE THAT UBER, LYFT AND OTHERS SERVE WHEELCHAIR USERS, DISABLED CLIENTS AND ALL NEIGHBORHOODS
We applaud Miami-Dade County elected and appointed officials for tackling the issue of regulation for Uber, Lyft and any other similar systems that use smart phone apps to link drivers with clients.
We read in the Miami Herald that the County administration is looking at waiving millions of dollars in fines.
We have a suggestion to help ensure that our County government creates rules that require Uber, Lyft, etc. to serve disabled passengers and those in communities that are often ignored.
We understand that Uber, Lyft and likely other app-based services are not going away.
But if we are going to endorse privatizing a large portion of our transportation utility, we must establish rules that ensure equity of all.
Sadly, the business model for private industry very rarely is to serve all communities equally.
Just like there are no fancy department stores in our most needy communities, the drivers for Uber and Lyft notoriously decline rides requested from areas that they perceive as poor, unsafe or worse.
There is a built in classism/racism in this system.
In our world, the #1 job of elected officials is to strive for a system that treats all equally and restores the unbalance of economic, housing, transportation and other opportunity that exists in far too many of our communities.
People with physical disabilities represent the most underemployed, most transit option-deprived community on earth.
Our taxis are required to supply a certain number of wheelchair-equipped vans and vehicles. Uber and Lyft have fought the truism that they are obligated to do the same.
It is inhumane to have a 50 billion company to pretend it is an appservice, not the fast growing transportation utility on earth.
It is discriminatory for these firms to ignore their obligations to wheelchair users and folks with other mobility issues. But they have a history of dodging the issue of providing accessible transportation -- or providing woefully inadequate lift-equipped options when forced to do so.
We suggest that the accrued fines -- be they the full amount or a reduced portion -- be set aside to create a fund for buying wheelchair lift-equipped vehicles to be a required part of the Uber, Lyft, etc fleets.
To get licensed by the County, these firms should match the fine amount with their own millions to provide a dispatching system and to fund maintenance and operations of a fleet that serves disabled County residents.
Some of the money should be put into a fund for a third party service that tests these driver summoned by app transport firms to make sure they are providing the County-required service to the disability community.
This would work much like housing testers that expose bigoted, horrible landlords that claim a unit is no longer for rent when a person from a minority group inquires about the advertised vacancy.
Stiff fines should be imposed for Uber, Lyft, etc. if they ignore minority communities and/or people with disabilities. Certainly, technology could easily monitor zip codes or sub neighborhoods "redlined" by drivers.
The random monitoring could take care of any violations against disabled people.
If Uber, Lyft and others cannot play by those rules of equity, then they have no business making billions off the backs of our diverse community.