Study finds women, African-American passengers discriminated by Uber, Lyft drivers

A new study finds that African-American and female passengers who request rides on Uber or Lyft are more often likely to be discriminated against than non-African-American or non-female passengers.

According to Bloomberg, researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research, African-Americans experienced either higher wait times or a higher rate of cancellations. Women, meanwhile, were taken on longer, more costly routes than non-female passengers.

Reserachers believe being given the names and pictures of prospective passengers gives ride-hailing app drivers the means to discriminate against their customers.

Both Uber and Lyft give riders’ names to their drivers.

While Uber doesn’t show customer photos to drivers, Lyft does. However, passengers aren’t required to provide a picture to either app.

The study, which was conducted in Boston and Seattle, included almost 1,500 rides ordered by research assistants in Boston and Seattle.

The findings, which were published on Monday, concluded that Uber drivers disproportionately canceled on passengers with black-sounding names.

While Lyft drivers did not cancel on black riders as often, the only reason for this is that Lyft drivers can screen out the names and pictures of black passengers upfront before they even accept (Uber doesn’t show names until after the driver accepts the fare), according to researchers. “In Lyft, you can discriminate without ever having to accept and hit cancel,” said Christopher Knittel, professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and an author of the study.

Once Uber drivers accept the trip, they can see the passenger’s photo and name, which is why discrimination by Uber drivers occurs more frequently as canceled rides.

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