Access Living, the Chicago-based disability rights group, is suing Uber. The lawsuit alleges that the ride-sharing service is inaccessible for people who use wheelchairs.
"Uber offers a travel service that is unusable for people who require wheelchair accessible vehicles," the federal lawsuit filed Thursday states. "From Uber's start in Chicago in 2011 until August 2015 (the last period for which information is publicly available), it provided only 14 accessible rides despite an overall industry volume at that time of three million rides a month."
The suit accuses Uber of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"Access Living had no choice but to take the significant action of litigation. People with disabilities have fought for generations to gain rights to equal services, ranging from mainline transit to taxis," Access Living's President and CEO Marca Bristo said in a statement. "This suit continues the struggle to enable individuals with disabilities to participate as full members of society. It is also a fight to avoid losing ground, as Uber pushes out existing accessible transportation services, further limiting options for people with disabilities."
Uber has its UberWAV service, which provides wheelchair-accessible vehicles. But Access Living says "this service has so few vehicles that it often shows no rides available anywhere in the Chicago area."
Three of Access Living's employees are named as plaintiffs in the suit, including Lakeview resident Justin Cooper.
"Uber and Lyft provide over three million rides every month in Chicago because they are convenient, timely and cost-effective," he said in a statement. "My wheelchair cannot transfer into a regular Uber vehicle, and even if I were lucky enough to find a wheelchair-accessible vehicle operating, I would have to wait for that vehicle to cross the city to reach me. No one would use Uber if the entire service worked this way."
Uber issued a statement to the Chicagoist in response to the lawsuit: "We take this issue seriously and are committed to increasing mobility and freedom for all riders and drivers, including those members of our communities who are disabled. There is always more to be done and we will continue working hard to expand access to affordable, reliable transportation options for all Chicagoans."