Study finds Uber, Lyft drivers may be discriminating against passengers

FILE - (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
FILE - (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (KRON/WCMH) — Uber and Lyft drivers may be discriminating against riders based on gender and race, according to a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University, M.I.T and the University of Washington.

Researchers looked at 1,500 rides taken in Seattle and Boston.

They found that Uber drivers in Boston were more than twice as likely to cancel rides for passengers who had African-American sounding names compared to riders with white sounding names.

Overall, black riders waited 30 percent longer for their Uber ride to arrive and waited an average of 20 percent longer than white riders for Lyft drivers to accept the trip.

“The patterns of discrimination were quite clear and consistent in both cities — and one can only assume it’s happening all across the country in other markets,” said MIT Sloan School of Management professor and study co-author Christopher R. Knittle. “The study has found major areas of racial discrimination within this new industry. It’s quite concerning.”

The study also found that drivers tended to take female passengers for longer, more expensive rides. Data from the study shows that women passengers experienced an average of 5 percent longer trips than men with the same start location and destination.

Importantly, the research findings show that the discrimination is not from the Uber and Lyft themselves, but rather the individual drivers.

“I don’t think that this shows discrimination on the part of the operators,” said Stephen Zeoepf, one of the study’s authors. “This is not Uber discriminating or Lyft discriminating. This is a reflection of the decisions of the individuals in society.”

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