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Elderly customers, those with disabilities worry about Uber, Lyft leaving Minneapolis as companies attempt to fill the void

Rideshare showdown happening in Minneapolis has some worried
Rideshare showdown happening in Minneapolis has some worried 01:59

MINNEAPOLIS — A new rideshare company says its ready to help elderly and disabled customers left behind by Uber and Lyft if they leave the Twin Cities metro on May 1. 

Carepool, a Wisconsin based company, has purchased local service Mobility4All and says it will launch its services Monday in Minneapolis. 

"Coming from rural areas of Wisconsin and realizing the need from my grandmother taking rides on Medicaid that were taking hours and hours on end, I figured why couldn't we use this rideshare model but tweak it," said CEO Josh Massey. "Not a good experience when you're in your 90s to take an entire day for that one hour."

Long wait times is something Corbb O'Connor is familiar with. He hoped they were a thing of the past. 

"I use Uber and Lyft on a weekly basis. A ride from my house to the airport, where I travel a lot for work, on transit is almost an hour.  In an Uber, it's seven minutes," he said. 

O'Connor is president of the National Federation of the Blind - Minnesota. 


While he says Uber and Lyft aren't perfect, the companies were more reliable compared to the taxis he used to take. 

"You'd call a taxi and they'd say... 'be there in about 15 minutes. If we're not call us back, and we'll send a different car.' And we never quite knew who the driver would be, what car it would be, how clean it would be, how well the driver could navigate the city," O'Connor said.  "Uber and Lyft changed that because there was an an app that I could rely on. I knew what kind of car I was looking for. I knew the driver was background checked and I could see quickly, how long it would take for them to be to my place. I could rely on that information and that transportation in a way I wasn't able to before."

O'Connor says he's cautiously optimistic to hear an app like Carepool is entering the metro market.

"I love the idea of competition, and I'm happy to try a different system. But what I want to be sure of is that the apps are built in a way that works for blind people that they are made accessible and that they work for all folks with disabilities who are using different kinds of assistive technology," he said. "As a blind user, I have a iPhone just like you might, and it reads out loud what's on the screen. But if the app isn't built in a way that that technology works for me and works with the app, then I'm not able to use it just as efficiently as everyone else."

Massey says the app was designed with accessibility in mind. 

"Once they build their profile, any driver that's going to go to pick them up is going to see that this individual is blind and that they would have some certain requests under the pickup instructions as to how to handle that," Massey said. "Everybody wants to do it differently. Some might be very independent, they don't want any help. Some others might like to help."

O'Connor says he's frustrated that no one from city council or the state's rideshare task force has asked for the federation's input. 

"Often times, people with disabilities are seen as the consumers and as the affected parties of rideshare. But we're not brought in as equal participants in the discussion for the solution," he said. "I'm frustrated to see decisions made about people with disabilities, from both Uber and Lyft as corporations and from city council members, that didn't invite the disability community in for these discussions. The National Federation of the Blind in Minnesota has been working in this area for 100 years in Minnesota and yet we didn't get any phone calls from those in the room."

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