A Colorado man with autism was stranded in Denver after his Uber driver threw him out of the car, saying she was “unwell.”
Collin Lewis, 28, was on his way to work in the Uber he requested through the Regional Transportation Districts Access-a-Ride (RTD) program – which is available to members of the public with disabilities and rides up to US 25 -Dollar covers – when the driver powered it up without warning.
“She didn’t say anything but the words ‘Out,'” Lewis said in an interview with 9 News in Denver.
Having to fend for himself in unfamiliar territory, Lewis called his father to say he was abruptly dropped and confused.
His father, Andrew Lewis, learned of Collins’ location and contacted employees at a nearby donut shop and asked if they could bring his son in while he drove out to pick him up.
LaMar’s Donuts employees did that and more, found Collin, brought him in, and gave him free coffee and a donut while he waited for his dad.
“They couldn’t have been cuter,” Collins’ father told the outlet. “All sorts of bad things could have happened.”
After hearing how Collin was treated during his Uber ride, the store surprised Collin with years’ worth of donuts for his troubles.
Collin, who had used the program to request Uber rides over 100 times, never encountered any problems or complaints until the March 8 incident, his father said.
Andrew said he contacted Uber to complain about how his son was being treated and was told in an email that the driver reported being “uncomfortable”.
The incident led to the discovery that Uber does not notify its drivers that a customer is requesting the ride through the RTD program and is unaware that they may be able to pick up a disabled passenger.
A spokesman for Uber released a statement to 9 News, calling it “unacceptable” that Collin was thrown out of his ride.
“Collins’ reported experience is unacceptable and we share his family’s disappointment and outrage. Our community guidelines prohibit denying service to people with disabilities and we will take appropriate action,” the statement said.
Uber and RTD have been working together since 2021 – with tens of thousands of rides completed in that first year alone – and implemented so customers can get on-demand rides instead of having to wait for shuttle buses.
Customers wishing to take advantage of RTD’s Access-a-Ride program must meet the criteria of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which Collin does.
RTD Access-a-Ride ride-sharing program overseer Paul Hamilton said the program has no intention of informing drivers that the passenger they are picking up may be disabled as it could be illegal.
Hamilton said RTD plans to continue to inform customers of the program that Uber drivers are not trained as shuttle drivers and that the ride-sharing system has limitations.
“I think the lesson learned is that this particular customer might not be a good fit for the on-demand service, at least if they’re traveling alone,” Hamilton told 9 News.
Collin Lewis and his father said they would continue to request Uber rides from the program and they hope something will be set up to notify drivers when they pick someone up via RTD.
“You get someone like Collin, he acts a little bit differently than other people, you know,” Andrew Lewis told the outlet. “I try to help her when in doubt, she didn’t get it, you know.”
https://nypost.com/2023/03/27/autistic-uber-passenger-stranded-by-driver-after-requesting-ride-using-disability-program/ Autistic Uber passenger stranded by driver after requesting a ride with the disability program