San Francisco woman with disability who says Lyft drivers repeatedly cancel her rides is calling for change

ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Monday, August 12, 2019
SF woman with disability says Lyft drivers repeatedly cancels her rides
A San Francisco woman with a disability says Lyft drivers have repeatedly canceled her rides when they pull up and see her service dog.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco woman with a disability says Lyft drivers have repeatedly canceled her rides when they pull up and see her service dog.

Although this is against Lyft's policies, she says the rideshare company is not doing enough to stop it.

Talia Lubin is a law student at UC Hastings College of the Law. She has Type-1 diabetes and for more than five years has had a Diabetic Medical Alert Service Dog named Astra - who on more than one occasion has saved her life.

"It's hard to describe the closeness between a service dog and their handler," Talia told ABC7 News. "We spend every second of every day of our lives together."

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She explained that during a recent visit to San Francisco to attend an Admitted Students reception, a Lyft driver canceled on her when the driver pulled up and saw Astra, who was wearing a dog vest that said "Service Dog" and "Medical Alert."

"Whenever this sort of thing happens it's so painful," Lubin said. "And It was scary, because it's like, am I just not going to get home? What am I supposed to do?"

Lubin said she reported the incident to Lyft's Trust and Safety team. They temporarily paused the driver's account and reminded him of his legal obligations to serve passengers with disabilities and their medical alert service animals. Lyft also offered Lubin a $5.00 credit.

On August 4th, she said she had two more similar experiences.

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She said her mother was visiting her at law school and called the Lyft. The driver told her she could not bring Astra in the car.

She explained to him that Astra sits at her feet and that she has a small travel tarp underneath to prevent any hair from being left in the car. She also explained that it is illegal for the driver to refuse service to a disabled person because they have a service dog.

Eventually, she said, she wore him down and they got in the car. Still, she said he continued to harass her throughout the drive about it.

Later that day, she called another Lyft. That driver saw her and Astra and canceled the ride.

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Lubin said she reported both instances to Lyft's Trust and Safety team, and received similar responses as the first incident.

ABC7 News reached out to Lyft for comment. Lyft sent us the following statement:

"What the rider described is unacceptable.

Community safety and inclusivity are core to our mission, and we have a strict Service Animal policy that requires all drivers to accommodate riders traveling with service animals.

Failure to abide by that policy can result in being removed from the Lyft community."

In addition, the company has an entire page on their website about its policy of allowing service animals.

Lubin acknowledged that Lyft is following federal law, but believes not enough is being done to train drivers of this policy and to enforce it.

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"They think having that policy is enough. But it's not enough if you don't ensure that the people that need to be paying attention know about it," she said. "So, that's what I'm hoping, hoping to change."

Lyft, along with Uber, is currently the subject of a class-action lawsuit calling for sweeping change among the ride-share companies: Equal access for those with disabilities.

The lawsuits, filed by the nonprofit Disability Rights Advocates of Berkeley, claim Uber and Lyft don't offer the same on-demand rides for people with disabilities as they do for everyone else in the Bay Area, which is in violation of the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act).