OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — This week, ABC7 has asked many questions about rideshare safety — but what about the cars themselves? How do you know if that personal car picking you up is safe to ride in? An Oakland mother and her baby had a scary experience on Interstate 880 that raised questions about mechanical safety standards. Seven on Your Side’s Michael Finney investigated. This rideshare user’s story will make you wonder if anybody’s checking the condition of rideshare cars. They are all personal cars.
Uber and Lyft accept cars up to 15 years old for use in the Bay Area. They do require the cars to look nice and undergo inspections. However, the reviews are far less stringent than those for taxicabs. Here’s a firsthand look at what gets checked out before a car picks you up. Jennifer Collins holds her baby close, still shaken by their harrowing ordeal.
A broken-down Lyft left a mother and baby in the rain on the side of the freeway. It began when Collins and little JJ took a Lyft from Oakland, sharing the ride with a Seattle man trying to catch a flight home from the Oakland airport. She describes how she and her son reacted: “He’s screaming… and I’m stuck, I’m just trying to get us where we need to go.
Initially, it was an average Lyft ride,” she said.
But as they drove down the Nimitz– the Lyft car sputtered and died on the side of the road. What the driver did next was stunning. He said I have to get a tow. You guys will have to find another ride,” Collins said. “I was like, are you kidding me right now? He wasn’t. The driver ordered all of them out of the car on the freeway. So Collins, her baby, and her fellow passenger, the Seattle man, all walked together along the highway to the 98th Avenue offramp. Collins carried her baby in his bulky car seat.
It was so heavy, so hard to walk,” she said. The Seattle man struggled carrying several pieces of luggage, worried he would surely miss his flight. And she says as they walked, sprinkles turned into a pouring rain. They went down to the street level to an airport long-term parking lot on 98th Avenue, where they could use the address to call another Lyft. It was rainy, and it was windy; it was freezing.
Cars were buzzing by me,” Collins said. “I was getting soaked, my son, screaming– like I feel helpless. But what was worse, she says, was Lyft’s response. The rideshare company emailed her, “I can assure you that you will never be paired with this driver again.” Then Lyft denied her a refund, saying, “We would never want to monetize your safety. What’s your response to this whole thing? That I won’t be paired with this driver?
I was appalled, literally appalled,” Collins said
Lyft would not discuss the case with us, saying, “The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we take these reports very seriously. We deactivated the vehicle after the reported incident and followed up with the passenger.
Lyft would not say whether the driver is currently working for the company.
Collins said the Lyft that broke down was an electric car. During the ride, she kept seeing warnings on the dashboard that the battery was not recharging. Instead of pulling off, the driver kept going until the car died. “Are these cars safe? There are questions. What do they check when there’s car checks?” Collins asked.