NLA-ad warns riders about Uber and Lyft, but some call It alarmist

NLA-ad warns riders about Uber and Lyft, but some call It alarmist

Pamela Anderson walks down a city street and uses her cellphone to book a ride. Along the way, she passes a newspaper and street signs that say, “Hollywood Sexual Harassment Scandal Reaches New Lows” and “U.S. Senator Accused of Groping.” When she gets into the car, she sees another sign that says, “Ride-Hail Drivers Suspected of Rape.” The car doors lock, and the driver turns around and suggestively asks, “Shall we?” Just then, “#MeToo” pops up on her phone’s screen.

“When you accept a ride from a ride-hail app, you also accept the risks that come with it,” Ms. Anderson says in a voice-over. “Many ride-hail companies consider their drivers third-party providers, so they don’t have to accept any responsibility or accountability for their actions. Always ride responsibly.”

The 60-second ad, released Monday, is the third in a campaign introduced in 2015 by the National Limousine Association to promote Ride Responsibly, an initiative that encourages riders to “think before you app”, writes the New York Times.

It is an attempt by the association to focus on allegations of attacks by drivers for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, which happen to be its competitors. In November, for instance, two women sued Uber, claiming their drivers raped them in separate cases in Florida and California. And last month an Uber driver in Beirut, Lebanon, was arrested in connection with the killing of Rebecca Dykes, a British diplomat. (The Taxi, Limousine and Paratransit Association (TLPA) runs a similar awareness campaign to the NLA’s – Ed.).

In September, when Transport for London, the agency that oversees that city’s subways, buses and taxis, declined to renew Uber’s license to operate there, it said that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues.” They included, it said, how Uber deals with serious criminal offenses and conducts driver background checks.

The ad is the second that Ms. Anderson has done for the National Limousine Association and its Ride Responsibly initiative.

Although Ms. Anderson said the new ad was aimed at young ride-hailing customers, Scott Solombrino, a founder of the National Limousine Association and the chief executive of Dav El/Boston Coach, said it was also directed at corporate travel managers.

He said these managers “might not understand the risk factors” of using companies like Uber and Lyft, which he said were trying to move “into the corporate space.” Some experts, however, question the association’s strategy and messaging.

“Some believe they can use regulation and scare tactics to halt an industry’s advancement,” said Greeley S. Koch, executive director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, a trade group. “Business travelers are smart. They will make the best decision for their needs based on cost, convenience and safety.”

Asked to comment on the Ride Responsibly campaign, a Lyft spokeswoman, Alexandra LaManna, said it “misleads consumers about the many benefits and safety features of Lyft.”

“All drivers must pass rigorous screenings, including criminal background and driving-record checks, before they’re able to drive for Lyft, and every ride is covered by a $1 million liability insurance policy,” she added. “Implying otherwise is simply not true.”

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  • The sign that Ms. Anderson sees after getting into the car in the ad.

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