Uber and Lyft drivers are more likely to discriminate against people with African-American sounding names, according to a recent study conducted in Boston and Seattle.
The researchers conducting the study sent passengers into the two cities to hail nearly 1,500 rides. Results showed that passengers using African-American sounding names experienced a 35 percent increase in waiting time in Seattle, and in Boston, passengers with African-American sounding names were more than twice as likely to have their driver cancel their trip.
Christopher Knittel, one of the co-authors of the study and the Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at MIT, joined Boston Public Radio today to discuss the study and prevention methods Uber and Lyft could use to stop their drivers from racially discriminating against passengers.
“There are ways they can adjust their app and adjust their system to reduce this sort of discrimination,” Said Knittel. “They should take a proactive role in trying to reduce discrimination, and to their credit, both Uber and Lyft have reached out to us and want to hold meetings to think of ways they can reduce discrimination.”
Knittel suggested that both companies could replace passenger and driver names with codes. Taking the passenger’s name out of the equations would prohibit drivers from canceling or refusing to pick up a fare based on their ethnicity.
Listen to our entire interview with Christopher Knittel above.