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Uber is being sued by NY disability advocates for not having accessible cars

The ride-hail company says 200 of its close to 60,000 cars in New York are accessible.

New York Uber Drivers Protest Rate Cuts Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Uber is coming under fire yet again for its lack of accessibility for people with disabilities. Nonprofit group Disability Rights Advocates is suing the company for discrimination against passengers with wheelchairs, alleging that 99.9 percent of its close to 60,000 cars in New York are not usable by people with wheelchairs.

The new lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, is seeking class action status and is asking a court to mandate that Uber implement a plan that allows all passengers equal access to its services.

The ride-hail company, which launched in New York City in 2011, provides accessible vehicles through its UberWAV feature but today only has close to 200 green cabs and black cars available through that service.

“Transportation is crucial for freedom and independence,” the lawsuit reads. “When Uber denies equal service to riders needing wheelchair-accessible vehicles, it results in real harm by interfering with the ability to work, attend school, shop for groceries, receive medical care, enjoy entertainment and cultural events, maintain family and social ties, and otherwise participate fully in the life of the city.”

Uber says it’s actively working to provide vehicles that have features that would make it easier for people in wheelchairs to get around.

Last year, the company launched a pilot program that would give drivers financial incentives — like charging them lower commission — if they had a wheelchair-accessible car that often is more expensive to operate and maintain.

Uber also has proposed a program to local regulators that would add five cents to all for-hire rides. That extra change will then go to a fund, administered by city regulators, and would be allocated to black car and other bases that complete wheelchair accessible rides.

This would also allow Uber to circumvent taking on any additional expenses of making their own accessible cars available.

“Uber’s technology has expanded access to reliable transportation options for all riders, including those with disabilities, and has enabled people with disabilities to earn income in new ways,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “While there is certainly more work to be done, we will continue advocating for a solution that offers affordable, reliable transportation to those who need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle."

This is just one in a series of suits the ride-hail company has faced for allegedly discriminating against people with disabilities. In 2014, the National Federation of the Blind sued the company because some of its drivers refused to give rides to blind passengers with seeing-eye dogs. The company ultimately settled the lawsuit in 2016 after it agreed to, among other things, more explicitly communicate its policy regarding transporting service animals to its drivers.

The company was also sued by the Equal Rights Center last month in Washington, D.C., for its lack of accessible vehicles, alleging that the company violated Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It’s not exactly a great time for the company to be facing yet another lawsuit. In addition to the ongoing legal saga between Uber and Alphabet, Uber is also facing several lawsuits from women who allege they were sexually assaulted by their Uber drivers and a lawsuit by a woman raped by her driver in India in 2014 who is alleging the company infringed on her privacy by accessing her medical files.

Here’s the full suit:

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