A Colorado man with autism was left stranded in Denver after his Uber driver kicked him out of the car, saying she felt “uncomfortable.”
Collin Lewis, 28, had been on his way to work in the Uber he had requested through the Regional Transportation Districts Access-a-Ride program (RTD) — which is available for members of the public with disabilities and covers rides up to $25 — when the driver booted him without warning.
“She didn’t say anything except the words ‘get out,’” Lewis said in an interview with 9 News in Denver.
Lewis was left to fend for himself in unfamiliar territory and called his dad to tell him he was abruptly dropped off and confused.
His father, Andrew Lewis, got Collin’s location and contacted employees at a nearby Donut shop, asking if they could bring his son in while he drove out to pick him up.
The employees at LaMar’s Donuts did that and more, finding Collin, bringing him inside, and giving him some free coffee and a donut while he waited for his dad.
“They couldn’t have been any sweeter,” Collin’s father told the outlet. “All kinds of bad things could have happened.”
After hearing about how Collin was treated during his Uber ride, the shop surprised Collin with years worth of donuts for his trouble.
Collin, who had used the program to request Uber rides over 100 times, had never previously run into any issues or complaints until the incident on March 8, said his father.
Andrew said he contacted Uber to complain about how his son was treated and was told in an email that the female driver reported “feeling uncomfortable.”
The incident led to the discovery that Uber does not notify its drivers that a customer is requesting the ride through the RTD program and is unaware that they could be picking up a passenger that is disabled.
A spokesperson for Uber released a statement to 9 News, calling Collin being kicked out of his ride “unacceptable.”
“Collin’s reported experience is unacceptable and we share in his family’s disappointment and outrage. Our community guidelines prohibit denying service to those with disabilities and we will take appropriate action,” the statement read.
Uber and RTD have been partnered together since 2021 — with tens of thousands of rides completed in that first year alone — and was implemented so customers could get on-demand trips instead of waiting for shuttle buses.
Customers planning on using the RTD’s Access-a-Ride program must meet the criteria set by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which Collin does.
The overseer of the RTD Access-a-Ride rideshare program, Paul Hamilton, said the program had no intention of notifying drivers that the passenger they are picking up may be disabled since doing so could be illegal.
Hamilton said that RTD plans to continue to let customers of the program know that Uber drivers are not trained as shuttle drivers are and that the rideshare system has limitations.
“I think the lesson learned is that this particular customer may not be a good fit for on-demand service, at least when traveling by themselves,” Hamilton told 9 news.
Collin Lewis and his dad said they would continue to request Uber rides from the program, and they hope something will be put in place to notify the drivers if they are picking up someone through RTD.
“You get somebody like Collin, he acts a little different than other people, you know,” Andrew Lewis told the outlet. “I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, she didn’t understand, you know.”