Copy-Black people face discrimination from Uber drivers, study says

SEATTLE, WA (KIRO/CNN) – New research shows how long people wait for an Uber pickup could depend on their race.

Black and white students at the University of Washington took to the streets to request an Uber or Lyft ride as part of a two year study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

"There is still discrimination happening," said Don MacKenzie, a transportation engineering professor at the university.

MacKenzie's team found black students had to wait 20 percent longer to get a trip accepted and 30 percent longer for their car to show up.

The study was also conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, where researchers sent out a single student with two different Uber profiles. The only difference in the profile was the passenger's name.

"When the name that a passenger used was a stereotypically African American name, they were much more likely to have the trip accepted and then canceled," Professor MacKenzie said.

He suggests ride hailing companies periodically audit their drivers' behavior and cancellations to avoid discrimination. He also says these companies should consider a system where no names are used.

The professor says there's no evidence the companies themselves discriminate. Rather, the drivers – and only some of them – are the ones to blame.

"These are the actions of individual drivers who are using those platforms. We have no reason to think it's every driver," MacKenzie said.

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