Tag Archive

Uber

LightHouse and Uber partner to provide transport for essential workers

LightHouse and Uber partner to provide transport for essential workers

In December last year, LightHouse was thrilled to be selected by Uber as a partner in its Community Impact Initiative program. Since 2017 the ride-share company, in recognition of the fact that access to transport is often a barrier to opportunity for many people, began partnering with not-for-profit organizations to provide rides free-of-charge to those in need.

The purpose of the LightHouse partnership with Uber was to make it easier for students to get to LightHouse locations to attend classes, one-on-one lessons and social groups. And, we all know what happened next: coronavirus changed everything for us all. LightHouse had to have all employees who could work remotely move to working from home. We had to close all face-to-face classes and any face-to-face interaction had to stop.

What couldn’t stop though was the essential work being carried out at LightHouse Industries (LHI) in San Leandro, for it is here that essential workers are involved in the process of making and shipping Pride All-purpose cleaner, Pure Bioscience disinfectant and tissue packets. In fact, demand has increased exponentially, and each weekday, and on some Saturdays, essential workers who have low vision or are blind have been working overtime to fill orders.

To support this essential work, Uber agreed to change the terms of its partnership with LightHouse, so LightHouse essential workers could benefit. So now Uber is transporting employees who require a ride, to and from the San Leandro factory free of charge so they can continue to do their necessary work and fulfill a need for the community.

LHI employee Jennifer Holloway said in a recent interview with San Francisco local radio station KALW: “I love my job and these people are like my family. But it is hard work, we are on our feet all day, so I am really grateful to be able to take Uber each day.”

Another LightHouse employee, Caitlin O’Malior, also uses the Uber Impact Initiative partnership with LightHouse to do her work. Once a week, Caitlin takes an Uber ride to go into LightHouse headquarters to assess signage sent to the LightHouse by organizations that must make their signage ADA compliant.

Caitlin has recently moved to an area in San Francisco from where it is difficult to reach the LightHouse by public transit. Caitlin is also not comfortable taking public transit during the epidemic. She, like Jennifer, is very grateful to Uber for its Community Impact Initiative program and its partnership with LightHouse, as are we all, thank you Uber.

Ever Had Problems with a Rideshare or Taxi App?

a collage of rideshare apps: Lyft, Uber, Flywheel, Sidecare, etc.

Here at the LightHouse, we want to help focus the conversation on apps and accessibility. The logical place to start, it seems, is with transportation network companies (TNCs), which use apps with great success to provide new transportation options.

When you need a ride, who do you call?

The blind community has lots of strong feelings, both positive and negative, when it comes to “ridesharing” apps. These apps, such as Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, FlyWheel, and others, have come to all but replace the old taxi system with a form of transportation that’s cheaper, faster, and, if you know how to work a smartphone, far more convenient than calling a cab. Members of the blindness community have proven to be some of these technologies’ earliest adopters and biggest fans; some of us even attend public hearings to speak in favor of the startups that inhabit our city and make it easier for us to get around.

But even with the best innovations come new roadblocks. In particular, some rideshare companies have not done a very good job of educating their drivers (most-often independent contractors) about the stipulations of the ADA, which makes it illegal for places of public accommodation to deny someone service based on a disability. Many specific issues are going to court, but for every case that ends up in the courts, we know there are dozens more stories that are untold.

This is our call to the blindness community, both in San Francisco and internationally, to weigh in with your feedback about specific rideshare services — not to comment on the recent Uber case per se, but to tell us personally what you’ve experienced as a visually impaired person, using any and all of the available options now on the market.

Which app has the biggest problems? Which ones are doing everything right? Did you ever feel discriminated against? Perhaps these apps have only changed your life for the better — we want to hear about that, too!

To share your story, good or bad, you can comment, send us a message on Facebook, Tweet at us, or even email our community manager directly at communications@lighthouse-sf.org. This is about ironing out the rough edges, celebrating what already works, and making sure that we will live in a future where we can expect all the same rights and enjoyments as the rest of the public. We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback!