Is racism rampant in the US?
A recent presentation in the USA today shows that there is a danger of rampant racism facing the Afro-American community, and its right in the middle of daily life.
According to a doctoral dissertation presented by Anne Brown from UCLA's Institute for Transportation Studies Afro Americans face longer wait times and more cancellations with Lyft and Uber.
This is all documented in her dissertation titled "Ridehail Revolution: Ridehail Travel and Equity in Los Angeles."
Based on Brown's research, 73% of all L.A. taxi drivers would be more likely to cancel on black riders than whites, and 25% of blacks were never sent a cab.
The research was based on 1,704 requested trips made by a group of 18 UCLA students from different ethnicity during the period of October to December 2017.
Fact: Black students waited for 52% longer than white students for taxis.
This dissertation emerges in the middle of the most controversial times in US history. After an eight-year term with Barack Obama, you would expect to feel some changes for the better, but the opposite is true.
The recent Starbucks apartheid approach to toilets punched the black community back into a poor reality of American life.
Fact: Lyft drivers canceled on 7% of the black students in comparison to the 5% cancellation on Asians and Hispanics, which is still much more than the 3% cancellations for whites.
While for Uber the percentage was lower since, the Uber driver only sees the name and not the photo of the passenger, 6% canceled on black students, 3% on Asian and Hispanic students and only 2% canceled on white students.
Taxis make blacks wait longer
Brown's research showed that Blacks would wait much longer for a taxi than a rideshare car.
The total wait time for a Taxi was 30 minutes when compared to the 24-minute wait by an Asian or Hispanic and only 20 minute for whites.
For blacks, the actual arrival of the taxi was down to 75% success rate, where 25% suffered not getting a taxi at all.
Brown states "The fact that any of this (bias) exists in L.A. means it likely exists everywhere else. When you're looking at a 1 in 4 chance that your taxi might not even arrive, how can you count on that to get to work or for child care?"
Ridesharing had a much lower cancellation rate than taxi drivers, which provide a very poor picture of American life.
Taxi's canceled on 26% of black students, while 20% of Hispanics and Asians were canceled and whites only faced 14% cancellations.
According to Brown "From an equality point of view, there's some way to go before the gap between riders is truly erased, but it's far narrower with ride-hailing, and with some policy changes, could erase the racial gap between riders entirely. Taxis don't have great accountability."
Looking back two years, we can see that UberX drivers canceled on twice the amount of African-American sounding names when compared to other name types.
One of the advantages that Uber and Lyft drivers have is to cancel trips, although they are discouraged from doing so due to this very issue of discrimination.
Basically, a driver can cancel a request that is pinged to his app.; the request will move over to the next driver, and so on. The customers wait time would then extend based on the bias for cancellation. Essentially, wait time and cancellations go in hand.
Discrimination versus Safety
Both Uber and Lyft give their driver the chance to see their customers basic details before a ride, for Lyft this includes a photo and for Uber just the name.
Ex-Senator Al Franken was a proponent for eradicating ridesharing discrimination based on these data sets, and both companies have strict anti-discriminatory regulations woven into their contracts.
As this study was released, with data based from over two years ago, Uber and Lyft have both decided to increase their oversight and track driver behavior patterns. Uber told USA TODAY that it is working with Brown to comprehend the study and its implications for ridesharing fully.
An Uber spokesperson stated that "While there's more work to do, we are committed to serving all communities around the world."
Lyft's vice president of policy, Joseph Okpaku stated to USA TODAY that "This, and similar research, is important for all parties involved in the transportation industry. We are proud of the advancements
Lyft has made in expanding access to transportation for passengers from all walks of life, and particularly from historically under served communities."
The Driverless Car Anti-Bias Solution
The current race for an autonomous vehicle or driverless car is perhaps the only solution to reduce this issue. However, it will not eradicate the more disturbing fact that America is rampant with racism and fear.
Sure, a driverless rideshare car or taxi will not discriminate, but the discrimination is still there, and the big issue that this paper puts forward is extremely disturbing.
The Black App
Mind you, there are solutions, and instead of moaning about racism, some entrepreneurs come up with their own solutions.
The same way women decided to create an app (GoSafr) for women to assure a safer rideshare experience, so a young Tanzania native named Godwin Gabriel, CEO, and founder of Moovn. Developed a Black ridesharing app.
Gabriel launched his on-demand transportation app in Seattle in February. According to Geek Wire, his company was ready to start providing service in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle in April.