State to pay Uber and Lyft to increase number of handicap-accessible cars

MassDOT today announced plans to spend $2.4 million on a year-long pilot project in which it will subsidize the cost of moving people in wheelchairs around the current RIDE service area.

The goal is to try to increase the number of ride-hail cars that are equipped to handle people who get around in wheelchairs, under an existing RIDE program with Lyft and Uber.

The state will pay Uber and Lyft a fixed subsidy for each hour than one of their cars is available on their networks to people who use wheelchairs. The state estimates its subsidy will pay for half the cost of getting wheelchair-accessible vehicles into service, with the companies expected to pick up the rest.

While the one-year pilot will launch within the RIDE service area, MassDOT and the MBTA will explore similar pilot options for regions outside the service area if this pilot is deemed successful.



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It's about time, MassDOT!

Hope this pilot program helps serve the needs of Uber/Lyft customers with mobility challenges. But how wonderful it would be if the state didn't have to subsidize this for these ride-share companies to understand why services for mobility-impaired customers are important.


I agree

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I agree. The state should NOT be subsidizing this. Even for the RIDE project. The contract should have INCLUDED them making their vehicles mobility impaired. Not state pay for them to run things.. THE WAY THEY SHOULD BE ALL ALONG.

If you are going to offer a service, it NEEDS to be avaliable for mobility impaired people also. Why don't we have a law for this? ADA should kick in at some point.. Taxi's have to.


I guess the ADA

has to do with public accommodations...and companies like Uber/Lyft can slink away from having to be ADA accessible because they're "private tech companies."

Disability rights law in the Commonwealth really needs to go harder in the paint. Systematic ableism is still pretty insidious here (and elsewhere).


As a wheelchair user...

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...I think this is terrific, the Ride requires you call and arrange things the day before. I get why they do, but it does suck the spontaneity— and sometimes just the normal — out of life.

Metrocab has a great wheelchair accessible cab service.

Agree that the state shouldn’t have to pay for this kind of thing, Uber and Lyft should be required to offer it, they’re doing aok for themselves


Here's a thought!

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I've used it about 10 times so far for a senior in a wheelchair and UberWAV has been excellent! State could subsidize all rides until the fleet of wheelchair vans reaches a certain size (depending on the disabled population, etc) and X number available overnight. After that, only subsidize for folks with EBT cards (or some other indicia of low income, others pay full fair. This might be one of those rare instances where the private sector actually could produce a public service better, faster, cheaper.

Lyft lost 900 million bux

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last year. If that's A-OK its no wonder Trump is POTUS. The company is a tech-bro shell game. The early owners will cash out for millions and watch the company tank.
There is a union for cab drivers. If that union had any brains they would be saving pennies waiting for Lyft to fold, then buying their technology and spreading its use to cab companies and cab drivers around the country, rather than trying to pay to build that tech infrastructure themselves.

When I say they’re doing great...

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...I know they’re unprofitable, just looking at the Silicon Valley IPO valuations, which are ridiculously off-the-charts.


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Apple also made products, that people could purchase. They also made profits prior to going public. They also had a business plan that wouldn't be destroyed but federal and local regulations if those decide to be implemented. They also had a business plan that wouldn't be destroyed by paying their employees minimum/liveable wages.

The technology is really simple

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I could teach grade-schoolers to type most of it.

These companies made their money from energetic lawyers, manic executives, and financial schemes, not from clever technology.

Why would/should they require

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Why would/should they require uber/lyft to be wheelchair accessible? They don't require it of medallion taxi fleets, and uber/lyft already have been established as being allowed to operate at a competitive regulatory advantage (for the most part).

I'll be interested in seeing how this proposal is supposed to work, since the uber/lyft model is individual owner-operator "contractors". Taxi/transportation companies (including ones like Veterans' or GLSS that have been RIDE providers) own/lease their fleet and directly employ drivers - though the state does provide some of the vehicles, especially wheelchair lift vans/minibuses.

Yes, "traditional" RIDE (dis)service is: submit booking request the day before with your "arrive by" and "return at/after" times, get a phone call (if the computer remembers) that evening telling you your pickup time (which might be as much as 90 minutes earlier than it would need to be for a direct trip), might be late to pick you up anyway, might be sharing a ride with one or more other clients whose pickups & dropoffs are at least somewhat in the same direction as yours (in theory), and practice may fall far short of theory - taking you far out of your way (it's SUCH a joy when you get that extra-distance and/or wrong-way stuff, especially with river/harbor crossings, like going from Braintree to somewhere in the Back Bay via Cambridge), and depending on the origin/destination points and the territories of the contracts - you might have to be handed-off from one vendor to another to complete the trip. Oh- and for all of this the state is paying something over $100/trip (or was the last article I remember reading about it). and good luck trying to add a same-day booking or changing a reservation time if your doctor appointment is running late. It can take a while to get another pickup. They are a little bit better than they used to be on service attitude, at least - used to have semi-frequent problems with staff that acted like they were doing clients a favor instead of providing a service to meet somebody's rights.

The state already has an arrangement with one or both app ride companies where some paratransit-eligible clients (those not needing wheelchair/lift, for example) can use them instead of the regular contractor. Allows same-day bookings and more direct, shorter trips.It will be interesting to see if there is a cost savings.
The main problem - not universal but all too frequent - is app driver ignorance (or intransigence) on other aspects of accessible service. Drivers too-frequently cancel RIDE bookings when they learn it's a person with a service dog. That or they show up and hem & haw when they see the dog - trot out all the weak old chestnuts about hypothetical allergies and dirt and what some later passenger might say. Or worst yet - "can't mess up my personal vehicle that way" Uber at least apologizes and refunds when it's reported, but doesn't seem to stop some repeats.
The state needs to lean hard on this. The "personal/private vehicle" rationale is weak even for general for-hire work. In a situation where they're taking public money (paratransit funding), they're public accommodation and cannot be allowed to discriminate.

companies that made billions of dollars by

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ignoring regulations and exploiting workers.

and we're giving them more money?!

are we a kleptocracy now?

throw the uber and lyft executives in jail, fine the hell out of the companies, ban them from the state, and pay mbta or law-abiding taxi companies to provide this handicap-accessible service

Uber is trash

To affiliate with professionally, but at least people do it voluntarily as at-will contractors. Maybe you could appreciate that we live in a society where adults largely get to act voluntarily.

We've been a kleptocracy the whole damn time. It's just more pronounced now that the wealthiest are protecting their wealth in a country of 327 million people, a 30% increase from 40 years ago. The people at the top are just as disinclined as the people at the bottom to reduce their standard of living.

Locking technology executives in jail is a screeching overreaction to the story at hand. Considering government's track record with managing money, for them to collect a fine from ridesharing firms would probably only lead to waste. Banning them from MA would be a slap in the face to popular sentiment, and that you expect the MBTA to deliver a service more efficiently than a private company is simply laughable.

Politics makes strange bedfellows

Uber and Lyft may not be nice folks, but they are playing an important role in destroying the taxi medallion racket.

After all (obligatory Godwin's Law tangent), to defeat Hitler, we kissed Stalin on the lips.


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STOP ENCOURAGING THEM! Organized gypsy cabs are still gypsy cabs! If we ever want rideshares to die a proper death and stop clogging our cities with traffic we have to stop treating them like legitimate enterprise!

I have, and they are pretty convenient

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but they are also proven to decrease public transit ridership, increase traffic, and possibly even emissions, contrary to their "stated goals" (environment, help decrease traffic and car ownership). They really just want money, even at the expense of paying their drivers below living wage.
Here's a good article which links and cross references all the sources and articles you need to educate yourself:
(the underlined words are actual links and not planted ads)

The reader's digest version is: ride-shares are a scam. To the general public, shareholders, and environmentalists. At the same time they have somehow managed to circumvent a legitimate, regulated industry through legal loopholes and politicians' laziness/greed.

I totally get that its more convenient for the average user. Taxi companies really shot themselves in the foot on this one. Public transit (locally ESPECIALLY the MBTA) need to really step up their game to become more reliable to make rideshares less of a part of normal transit. Carpooling programs would be better, in that once the owner of the car gets to their destination the car STOPS RUNNING. "Deadheading" is what they call it when a car is buzzing around with no passengers, using gas, spewing emissions, and clogging the roadways while they try and catch a fare. Medallions in the taxi industry put a limit on this, as only a certain number of cars can operate in certain areas. Rideshares blow this to smithereens.
The MBTA is already heavily subsidized by the taxpayer, and have door-to-door services for the disabled. That the state is even CONSIDERING subsidizing a private business when they should be bolstering and funding THEIR OWN services is reprehensible in my opinion. Its contracting out work they should be responsible for to a cheaper operator who doesn't have to pay to the standards of current worker unions. So, as always, the bottom line in MONEY.

I assume you haven’t used one

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I assume you haven’t used one lately. The last several times I’ve been in an Uber it was awful. Dirty cars with loud grinding sounds, drivers who have NO clue where they are or how our roads flow. I only use them if I’m in a pinch. Otherwise I’ll drive or take the T.

I used to love Uber because calling a cab in Dorchester was useless. But they have ruined their reputation by allowing anyone with four wheels to drive for them.

I find it odd that the state just ignored accessible taxis.

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Is this another case of "big tech will solve all our problems so we don't have to try"? Probably. How many accessible vehicles do U & L have?

Though the reviews are mixed, the MTA in NYS is starting to subsidize the cost of the many accessible taxis in NYC, while also trying to make them easier to book: For a while, buying or equipping an accessible taxi was the only way to get a new medallion.

I don't know how many accessible taxis are on the road inside of 128. As previously discussed, Boston has needed a regional cab system for about 80 years. Because every town has its own system, there is no system. Regulations and enforcement are a joke.

Wow we love to spend money!

Would have made more sense to first require ADA accessibility as a condition of Uber and Lyft doing business in Massachusetts. Plus a percentage of vehicles accessible to more severely handicapped persons and the ability to summon them on the ap.