Study Finds “Pattern of Discrimination” among Ride-Hailing Drivers
Drivers through favorite ride-hailing services such as Uber along with also Lyft have engaged in a “pattern of discrimination” which limits transportation options for African American passengers along with also ratchets up costs for female passengers, according to a brand new study.
Researchers through the University of Washington along with also the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had assistants take nearly 1500 trips in their respective markets on Uber, Lyft, along with also Flywheel. They say drivers canceled on riders with African American–sounding names more than twice as often as they canceled on those with white-sounding names. Male passengers in certain areas were more than three times as likely to have their trips canceled when they used names like Darnell, Kareem, along with also Rasheed, versus Brad, Greg, along with also Todd.
“There appears to be evidence which African American passengers receive worse service compared to white riders,” the study’s authors wrote within the paper, “Racial along with also Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies.” The authors were careful to note which the discrimination was not the result of any policy enforced by the ride-hailing providers, yet the behavior of individual drivers.
Some findings varied by market. In Seattle, African American passengers suffered through wait times as much as 35 percent longer than white passengers. In Boston, the researchers say drivers took female passengers on longer routes which resulted in more expensive rides.
“This particular will be impossible to say in any individual case which a driver discriminated, because there are many valid reasons which a driver might decline or cancel a trip or choose a certain route,” wrote Don MacKenzie, a University of Washington professor along with also one of the study’s four lead authors. “yet when we see many such decisions disproportionately affecting certain groups, which points to discrimination within the aggregate.”
The study comes on the heels of some other complaints of discrimination within the brand new sharing economy. A 2015 study conducted by the Harvard Business School found similar patterns of racial discrimination among prospective guests on Airbnb.com. within the transportation realm, there’s a well-documented history of discrimination against minorities by drivers of traditional taxicabs, along with also part of the allure of brand new mobility services like Uber along with also Lyft has been which they could potentially connect long-ignored communities with educational along with also employment opportunities which were previously hard to reach.
The researchers, in a separate portion of the study, found discrimination rampant among drivers of traditional taxicabs. In Seattle, they counted the number of available taxis which stopped for white assistants versus African American assistants.
The first taxi stopped nearly 60 percent of the time for the white assistants, yet less than 20 percent of the time for African American assistants. Further, the white assistants never had more than four taxis pass before one stopped, yet the African American assistants watched six or seven taxis pass them in 20 percent of the cases.
“We believe Uber will be helping reduce transportation inequalities across the board, yet studies like This particular are helpful in thinking about how we can do even more,” said Rachel Holt, Uber’s regional general manager for the U.S. along with also Canada.
A Lyft spokesperson did not return a request for comment.
Researchers note there was a not bad deal of nuance in how they approached their study. For one, Uber along with also Lyft drivers receive information on prospective riders in different ways, which makes This particular difficult to make direct comparisons between the two companies. Lyft drivers see both a passenger’s name along with also photo before accepting a ride request—which could potentially hinder acceptance rates or wait times. Uber drivers view only a passenger’s location along with also star rating when they receive a ride request; only after they accept the request can they see a passenger’s photo along with also name.
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In which case, “This particular will be possible which some drivers might accept a trip request along with also then quickly cancel This particular after seeing the passenger’s name, as some Uber drivers have advocated in online forums,” the study’s authors wrote.
Suggestions the study’s authors make for eradicating the discrimination included not using names to identify passengers along with also drivers. Instead, they say a unique passcode could be given to both parties to confirm the identity at the time of pickup. Further, they say the ride-hailing companies should use their internal data to better monitor for discrimination.