Uber and fellow ride hailing company Lyft has responded to accusations of discrimination. The issue stems from a study published earlier in the year that seemed to document discrimination by drivers who work for Uber and Lyft.
Senator Al Franken was shocked by the study and contacted the companies to tell them of the results. The Senator has now published Uber’s response. The company says it is improving its record on equality constantly, but says that its current practices do not amount to discrimination.
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.”