Uber and Lyft Spark Controversies Among Customers

By Azman Chowdhury ’19, Rivaldo Richardson ’19, and Amr Elsayed ’19

Uber and Lyft are popular ride share companies that provide services world wide. Recently, the safety of these companies is being questioned.

Uber was founded on March 2009 in San Francisco, California by Travis Kalanik and Garrett Camp. Since then it grew into the largest car corporation in the world. Many people use it almost every day to get to work or somewhere when they are in a hurry. Most people who ride with Uber are happy with their experience, but there have been incidents before.

“I truly believe that Uber and Lyft are safe, as I have been working for over two years now,” said Mohammed Abdullah, an Uber and Lyft driver. “As long as you’re friendly with the passenger, you will have a safe time.”

Though Uber and Lyft claim to be safe and do everything to keep their passengers safe according to both of their websites, there have been some allegations that say otherwise. There have been several assault charges against both. According to Recode on November 14, Uber has faced a class-action lawsuit of $69 billion for riders alleging assault, rape, and other sex offenses for over the previous four years. This is more prominent with Uber because the passengers are more than likely going to sit in the front seat, which makes people more likely to be on the end of assaults, most notably sexual assaults and groping allegations. This goes hand in hand with the fact Uber has been infamously known for people presenting themselves as fake drivers. According to the New York Post on November 14, two women alleged sexual assault charges by drivers in San Francisco and have sued Uber.

According to the LA Times, Richard Winton writes, “A 46-year-old driver with felony record has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and kidnapping after an intoxicated passenger was taken to a hospital and attacked.” This happened in June 2017 which was a problem for the company because it undermines their reputation.

However, not every Uber subset experiences the same allegations, which is why more people continue to use it. Uber has seven different subsets in which passengers are allowed for different price ranges and safety concerns. UberPool is the cheapest Uber subset of them all, and the one that people are most commonly going to ride in because of the reason formerly mentioned. With it being the cheapest, it is potentially the most dangerous. According to an ABC Eyewitness News account on December 29, 2015, “Atlanta police are trying to determine what happened to a man who claimed he was robbed by an Uber driver early Sunday morning. The man’s sister posted on social media about the alleged incident and her post has since gone viral. But the company says there’s no way the robbery could have happened the way she describes it.

According to the Chicago Tribune on April 5, a woman sued Uber due to her being allegedly stabbed by a fellow passenger during an UberPool ride on January 30.

“So far in the past year, I have not been through any life-threatening situations yet,” said by Rony Chowdhury, an Uber driver. “But when I used to do green cab and local livery car service I was always scared to work.”

Lyft gives customers the same service but has a different name. Lyft was founded in June 2012 by Logan Green. Lyft is now available to 95 percent of the US. This makes the service very accessible and like Uber very affordable.

Lyft, on the other hand, may experience the same problems, such as a woman accusing a Lyft driver of alleged rape on August 25 according to the San Diego Reader.

Lyft has three subsets, Line, Lyft, and Plus. Like Uber, they range in prices. Lyft drivers have what is known as an Amp, a bright pill-shaped gadget with several LED’s, that are put on their dashboards, making i t easier for their customers to notice them. Therefore, it makes it very unlikely for there to be a poser of a Lyft driver. Not only that, but like Uber, Lyft has drivers of different car types and drivers with different ratings, as well as the drivers undergo an entire background check that lasts for 3-10 days, compared to 3-5 days of Uber. This makes Lyft appear as the safer ride-share company when compared to Uber. People posing as drivers for both Uber and Lyft are smart enough to change their license plate and forge the sticker that is generally placed on the bottom right corner of the windshield.

During major holidays such as New Year’s Day and Halloween, many of the major metropolitan areas such as New York City become surged, meaning the prices for rides increase for both Uber and Lyft. According to Lifehack, Lyft caps out at three times more than the original price, while Uber could go as high as eight times the base rate. This makes Lyft more accessible to more people during the most expensive of hours, even when taking heavy traffic into account.

Although Uber may be the more dominant company when concerning incoming revenue, with Uber getting $62.5 billion compared to Lyft’s $5.5 billion, Lyft appears as the safer to use because of the lack of assault charges and allegations as when compared to Uber, as well as the precautions that they proceed with.

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