Black and Latino Americans are only slightly more likely to use ride-hailing services than white Americans, according to a new Pew survey about the sharing economy published on Thursday.
In the survey, which included 4,787 Americans, 15% black respondents and 18% of Latino respondents said they had used ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, compared to 13% of white respondents.
Taxis have a long-standing and well-known discrimination problem. “Even in our ‘post-racial society,’ one of the realities of being a brother is that hailing a cab is a nearly impossible task,” wrote one Washington Post contributor in an op-ed opposing regulations against Uber. “Uber increases the quality of life for those of us who are regularly dissed by taxi drivers,” he argued.
Even so, some have argued that the ride-hailing system can facilitate discrimination, by, for instance, allowing drivers to rate passengers, which can be influenced by implicit bias (or explicit racism, for that matter). Uber and Lyft drivers can also reject passengers for any reason, including their name or the neighborhood in which they live. One analysis found that Uber seems to offer better service in areas with more white people.
Fifty-four percent of ride-hailing users in the Pew study said they felt that ride-hailing is a good option for people who have trouble getting taxis to pick them up based on their race or appearance (9% said they didn’t agree with this statement and 37% said they weren’t sure). And about half of ride-hailing users agreed that the services visit neighborhoods that taxis don’t frequent.