A new study into ride-sharing driver behavior suggests Uber and Lyft drivers are discriminating against African Americans. The study was conducted by a team out of MIT, Stanford and the University of Washington, it recorded data from 1,500 rides in Boston and Seattle.
Eight research subjects were used in the study. Two of them were American women, two African American men, two white women, and two white men.
The results were revealing, with the data shows that African American passengers wait for rides longer and are subject to more cancellations from drivers. In Seattle, the results show from 581 completed trips that African American riders saw a 35% increase in waiting time.
It is important to know that Uber drivers do not actually see an image of the passengers, although Lyft drivers do. However, this does not forgive Uber drivers in this situation.
In Boston, the cancellation rate was nearly double for passengers with “black-sounding” names 11.2% versus 4.5% for “white-sounding” names. For women, it was 8.4% and 5.4%, respectively.
Overall, the study concluded “that UberX drivers are nearly three times as likely to cancel a ride on a male passenger upon seeing that he has a ‘black-sounding’ name.”
“Using the most direct measure (observed cancellations in Boston) there appears to be evidence that African American passengers receive worse service, compared to white riders, in TNC or ride-hailing based services such as Uber and Lyft,” the authors wrote. “This discrimination is not the result of any policy by ride hailing providers, but rather the behavior of individual TNC drivers.”