Uber will soon be providing free rides to women using the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, the company announced today.
The ride-hailing app has donated $10,000 — roughly a year’s worth of rides — to the shelter, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The shelter will contact Uber, which will send a driver to pick up women needing transportation to the facility or to outside appointments.
“Ms. Karaczun [the shelter’s chief program officer] said the donation will free agency funds for other items in the agency’s $4 million annual budget such as food and linens,” the Post-Gazette reports. “The shelter has been spending about $1,000 a month on transportation, but it expects the cost of Uber trips to be lower, so the donation should cover the full year.”
A public affairs representative for Uber in Pennsylvania told the paper that the company has a similar set-up with a homeless shelter in Massachusetts.
Uber’s relationship with municipal and state governments has often been far from amicable. The Pittsburgh announcement follows closely on the heels of the company’s GPS data release, also aimed at playing nice with cities.
Uber’s choice of a women’s shelter is notable — last year, the company settled a high-profile lawsuit with two women who claimed to have been raped and sexually assaulted while using the service, and in 2015, a Delhi driver was found guilty of raping a female passenger in a case that led to accusations that the company did not conduct adequate background checks. Also in 2016, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that drivers for the company regularly discriminate against women and people with “African-American-sounding” names.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.