Blind woman says Lyft driver refused her service

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 18:06:38-05

A blind woman being picked up from the Braille Club in West Palm Beach says a Lyft driver sped off when he realized she was blind.

"I was in tears and I felt humiliated" Braille Club member Dora Williams said.

Williams usually takes the Palm Tran bus home from the club, but when she missed the bus Friday she says she had her daughter contact the Lyft driver through the popular ride sharing app.

She then waited outside with Braille Club President Larry McDowell.

"When he showed up he said if she is blind, I don't want her in my car. I'm not going to ride with her in my car," McDowell said.

McDowell says he tried to get the driver's name, but he quickly sped off.

"He should have thought about what if that was him. I never thought I would have been blind today. He should think about us," Williams said.

McDowell says he understands why Lyft drivers can't transport people in wheelchairs or who need special seat belts. But he says there is no excuse for not transporting someone who simply cannot see.

"Her daughter was waiting to receive her at home. We were disgusted by the driver's actions," McDowell said.

Lyft spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna released the following statement:

"Lyft is committed to maintaining an inclusive and welcoming community, and our mission is ensuring people who need rides most are able to get them. This behavior is unacceptable and a clear violation of our anti-discrimination policy. We immediately disabled the driver’s account upon receiving this report."

Lyft is a similar ride sharing service to Uber. Passengers use their smart phones to contact drivers.

Eugene Reavis with Palm Beach County Consumer Affairs says Uber is operating legally in the county under a temporary license. But he says Lyft is operating with no license. He urged people with complaints to call their office.