Ride-hailing passengers who follow the rules shouldn’t pay for bad behavior of others

There are some Uber and Lyft drivers who can be downright annoying by showing up late, playing loud music or glancing at their cellphone as they dangerously weave in and out of traffic. In some cases, even worse happens, such as sexual assaults and other physical violence.

But passengers can also be a pain. Some are drunken messes. Others smell bad and don’t tip. And in rare cases, they’re a serious threat as well.

So drivers do have good reason to fret about bad passengers who file false complaints that can trigger them being “deactivated” from a ride-hailing service — and having their livelihood stripped away, at least temporarily, as a result.

To help such victims of bogus claims, Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) is proposing to create a city-based “Driver Resource Center” that would give ride-hailing and food delivery app drivers an opportunity to appeal their status.

If a ruling panel concludes deactivated drivers were the target of a deceitful passenger, they would be compensated for their lost wages, plus 9% interest, as the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reported last week on the City Council member’s plan.

Who’d be on the hook for this city-based appeals process? Passengers — including those who are polite, follow the rules and never file fake complaints — via an adjustable tax starting at 10 cents a ride and tacked on to overall fees.

Ride-hailing and food app drivers shouldn’t be at the mercy of made-up tales. They deserve a chance to appeal, to have their status as drivers reactivated and be reimbursed for lost wages.

But why should passengers who follow the rules help pay the price for those who don’t? And both Uber and Lyft have appeals processes already in places for drivers who say they’ve been the target of bogus passenger complaints.

Sadlowski Garza, who made the proposal at the request of the Independent Drivers Guild of Illinois, has to outline details, including how drivers would be reimbursed for lost wages for a gig for which earnings can vary considerably.

Uber is also testing a pilot program where drivers and riders can record audio of their experience, and a similar pilot is in place allowing drivers to record video. Neither option is yet available in Chicago, but if they do launch here, investigations will be easier.

Ride-hail drivers shouldn’t be taken advantage of. But in this case, let the city work with companies to curb the problem rather than creating another mechanism that puts good passengers on the hook.

Please visit, https://chicago.suntimes.com/2023/1/25/23567778/ride-hailing-passengers-drivers-uber-lyft-food-delivery-app-city-hall-susan-sadlowski-garza, to read the full piece.