CHICAGO — A local advocacy group is suing Uber, saying the ride-hailing service is "unusable" for people who use motorized wheelchairs.
The suit, filed by Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, claims that Uber doesn't have nearly enough wheelchair-accessible cars in Chicago.
For wheelchair-bound customers, Ubers offers a service called UberWAV, but customers who signed on to the suit said the cars are rarely available.
Between September 2011 and August 2015, Uber provided just 14 rides to motorized wheelchair users who require special cars, according to Access Living. Uber provided over 1.9 million rides in Chicago in June of 2015, the suit alleges.
"Transportation access has always been a central issue of civil rights for people with disabilities," Steven P. Blonder, lawyer for Access Living, said in a statement. "As a growing player in our transportation system, Uber is responsible for delivering its part of that link."
An Uber representative sent DNAinfo a statement Thursday, saying "We take this issue seriously and are committed to increasing mobility and freedom for all riders and drivers, including those members of our communities who are disabled. There is always more to be done and we will continue working hard to expand access to affordable, reliable transportation options for all Chicagoans."
The City Council passed an ordinance that further regulated ride-hailing services, but an amendment to require equal wheelchair-accessible cars was scrapped, the group said.
A meeting with Uber reps following the passage of the ordinance did not end with the company agreeing to add more cars to its UberWAV fleet, Living Access said.
Marca Bristo, Access Living CEO, said the group had to file suit.
"People with disabilities have fought for generations to gain rights to equal services, ranging from mainline transit to taxis," Bristo said in a statement. "The suit continues that struggle to enable individuals with disabilities to participate as full members of society."
Justin Cooper, a Lakeview resident who uses a wheelchair, said in a statement that UberWAV is not reliable enough for him to use.
"My wheelchair cannot transfer into a regular Uber vehicle, and even if I were lucky enough to find a wheelchair-accessible vehicle operating, I would have to wait for that vehicle to cross the city to reach me. No one would use Uber if the entire service worked this way," Cooper said.
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