The popular ride service Uber succeeds because their drivers show up when you call. Well, they’re supposed to show up, but the company has a hard time complying with rules and regulations. Now that policy is going to cost them. The California Public Utilities Commission has fined Uber $7.3 million for failing to provide details about their business practices.
Uber has come under scrutiny from the Commission for failing to disclose their treatment of disabled passengers and whether driver’s vehicles are accessible to disabled passengers.
Uber was required to provide the Commission with reports showing how frequently they send out vehicles that can be used by disabled passengers, locations drivers refuse to service, and their accident history.
“This industry has done everything it can to avoid, dismiss, and coerce themselves out of regulation, and this decision is welcome from that standpoint,” said Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund.
Passengers use the Uber app to request a pick-up from a driver. Drivers in the area are allowed to accept or decline the request. The Commission is interested in learning if the ride service is being offered fairly to all areas and all people.
California isn’t the only state that has had issues with Uber’s business practices. The service is described as a network orchestrator, managing requests between drivers and passengers. It is the frequent target of protests from taxi companies and government regulators as it continues its growth into more than 300 cities and expands through six continents.
The civil rights division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office has recently begun a discussion with Uber and Lyft—a competing service—over their treatment of blind passengers and those in wheelchairs. A case against Uber for refusing service to a passenger with a seeing-eye dog is underway in San Francisco.
Perhaps in response to these growing complaints, Uber has introduced uberASSIST. It is a new option for passengers, designed to provide transportation for people with disabilities and mobility issues.
California is Uber’s home state, and it is predicted that they will pay the fine quickly to ensure good relations at home. It is less that 1% of the $5.9 billion of the company’s venture capital investment.