Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Along for the Ride: Blind Woman Says UberX Cut Her Transportation Costs in Half

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Along for the Ride: Blind Woman Says UberX Cut Her Transportation Costs in Half

Article excerpt

Robyn Wallen was born with congenital cataracts and glaucoma, and is legally blind.

She has never driven a car, and has used taxis since she was 6. These days, she's an UberX fan.

Wallen is a plaintiff in Uber's lawsuit against the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, which in turn is suing Uber. Last week, rulings in the competing lawsuits moved the cases perhaps slightly closer toward resolution.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Autrey denied a motion by the taxi commission to dismiss Uber's suit against it, but did dismiss individual taxi companies and defendants named in Uber's suit.

Two days earlier, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Tom DePriest Jr. denied Uber's motion to dismiss the case against it, but agreed to the company's request to halt further court proceedings into the taxi commission's efforts to bar UberX from operating in St. Louis and St. Louis County until Autrey ruled in the other suit.

So the fate of UberX, an app-based, ride-hailing service in which drivers use their own cars to ferry passengers, remains in limbo in St. Louis.

On Sept. 18, 2015, the taxi commission voted to allow ride- hailing services, but it required drivers to be fingerprinted and possess a Class E Missouri commercial drivers license, also known as a chauffeur license. Those terms are dictated by a state law specific to St. Louis and St. Louis County.

That same day, Uber launched UberX, even though drivers had not met the requirements set by the taxi commission. UberX has operated in defiance of commission regulations since then, much to the delight of Wallen and her boyfriend, Mark Detjen, who also is visually impaired. A few days ago, they summoned their 263rd ride on UberX here.

Wallen is not shy about publicizing her support for UberX, including through interviews with local media. She worries that court decisions won't favor Uber and she'll be left without the service.

"For us, it's like having a car in the driveway, and that's something that most people don't understand," she said. …

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