A bicoastal movement to rein in the number of Uber and Lyft cars — and boost driver earnings — is taking its cues from New York City.
New York regulators this summer capped the number of app-based cars allowed on city streets, and limited the time their drivers can cruise without a passenger in the busiest parts of Manhattan.
The changes may push some drivers out of the city — or maybe out of the business entirely — while perhaps boosting the incomes of those who remain.
Now the companies are fighting against a push in California for a state law guaranteeing drivers’ incomes.
“We have robber barons in the 21st century,” said Nicole Moore, a Lyft driver in Los Angeles and member of the Ridesharing Drivers Union, which organizes app-based drivers. “The drivers are underwater from the cost of our cars.”
regulate Uber and Lyft in New York and California could inspire other cities to fight back as well.
“The political tide is shifting,” said Daus. “It’s now time for a backlash. The question is will the drivers outside of the coasts get organized? Will this be a one-off thing that fizzles out, or will it snowball into something much bigger?”
Drivers elsewhere in the country feel much of the same economic pain of yellow cab drivers and app-based drivers in New York. Yellow cabs revenue in the city is down 36% since 2015, when e-hail cabs began doing business.
The emergence of app-based rides has also pushed down driver incomes in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, data obtained by the Daily News shows.
Uber’s arrival slashed revenues for Los Angeles taxis ― the money brought in by the cabs fell by roughly 25% between 2012 and 2016, the data shows.
Jose Funes, who drives for Uber in L.A., said the company made big promises when he first started driving for them in April 2015. But as more Ubers hit the roads, his income plunged.
“I was earning $300 to $400 a day in the beginning,” said Funes, who also drove a cab from 1996 to 2000. “They started to add a lot of cars on and then I started to see they’d take more of a percentage of my fare…. Now I’m down to $140 or $120 a day.”
“The investors are even getting screwed,” said Moore. She noted that Uber reported a loss of $5.2 billion in the second quarter of 2019, compared to $1.8 billion that Lyft lost in all of last year.
What happened in Los Angeles is typical.
When Uber and Lyft enter a market, local taxi drivers see their demand slip, and almost immediately start taking home less pay.
The app-based drivers, who are technically independent contractors and not employees, make a decent living at first. But as more and more drivers sign up for the apps, ridership cannot keep up, and drivers end up with fewer rides and fewer dollars in their pockets.
In New York, Lyft has already been forced to temporarily kick some drivers off of its platform to comply with new the city’s new minimum wage rules. Because the city has limited the number of cars Uber and Lyft can have on the road, many drivers and experts fear the new cruising regulations will effectively create a new taxi medallion system for app-based cars.
California lawmakers are currently working to pass legislation that would make app-based drivers traditional employees, and Uber has launched a blitz campaign railing against the idea.
Moore supports the bill, and said Uber and Lyft are designed to redistribute wealth away from working class drivers and into the hands of white collar corporate types.
“There’s money that can be shared here with workers, but that’s not in the companies’ interest,” said Moore. “They consider us a hiccup on the way to self-driving cars” — which might operate with many fewer drivers.
In some major cities, like Indianapolis, it will be much harder for drivers to organize.
Vice President and former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in 2015 signed legislation that precluded any of the state’s municipalities from regulating the app-based companies.
Uber spent more than $40,000 on lobbying activity in Indiana the year that the state’s regulations were passed, public records show. Taxi companies spent nothing.
Since then, Uber and Lyft have grown unchecked — while the number of traditional cab drivers working in Indianapolis has been halved, data shows.
“That has happened in a number of cities like ours,” said Indianapolis Councilman Vop Osili. “There is no strong taxi industry or no strong taxi lobby here in our city and, I daresay, the entire state.”
Because they can not crack down on app-based cars, Osili and his colleagues are working to remove burdensome fees and red tape for the city’s cab industry to level the playing field.
Uber spokesman Harry Hartfield said app-based companies are a good thing for cities as they offer “more safe, reliable and affordable transportation to communities that have been historically ignored by taxis.”
Tightening the number Uber and Lyft cars — and requiring drivers to be paid minimum salaries — will cut the number of drivers in the app car business, said Daus.
“A heck of a lot of drivers are going to be out of work,” he said. “They’re going to pick their best drivers and keep them. It’s already happening in New York.”
Adams Clinical removes hurdle to clinical trial participation
How Adams Clinical increased retention and streamlined operations by switching to Uber.
One of the hardest parts of conducting a clinical trial is identifying willing participants. Once a participant is identified, strict qualifications and an often-lengthy time commitment limits who can participate, and a lack of access to transportation can make it difficult for participants to commit to and complete the study. To help improve recruitment and retention rates, Adams Clinical offered taxi rides to their participants. However, this solution became a burden on operational efficiency since taxis were only accessible to participants who lived close by and required the staff to pay at the end of each ride.
Finding the perfect transportation solution with Uber Health
To expand their transportation offering, Adams Clinical became an early beta partner with Uber in 2016. The team started using Uber’s web dashboard to arrange and pay for rides for participants with just a few clicks. Over the three years of this partnership, the switch to Uber Health simplified operational management, while reducing time spent on recruitment with increased retention rates. The easy-to-use Uber Health dashboard tracked all the rides and processed payments from one centralized interface, allowing the staff to arrange rides without the hassle of paying at the end of each trip. This flexibility, plus the extensive reach of Uber driver-partners in the Boston area, provided Adams Clinical with the transportation solution needed to successfully manage their participants in need of rides—which removed the headache from recruiting and retaining their study participants.
The result: Improved retention rates, simplified financial records, and an overall lift in team morale
By teaming with Uber Health, Adams Clinical enjoys a number of key benefits including:
• Expanded Recruitment—Using Uber Health cut down the length of enrollment by providing a larger pool to recruit from, resulting in a 5 to 10 percent reduction in recruitment time over the last two years.
• Centralized Billing—All rides are charged to one company credit card, which is then processed at the end of each month to streamline the amount of administrative effort required.
• Reliable Service—Each ride is tracked in the dashboard so the team knows when the participant will be arriving to help keep the rest of the study on schedule.
• Improved Retention—In the first two years of the partnership with Uber, Adams Clinical estimated up to 20 percent fewer people dropped out of a trial when transportation was arranged to and from the clinic.
• Financial Accountability—Details for each ride are available in the dashboard, and can be downloaded to a spreadsheet, offering convenient management with trial-specific reporting per participant.
• Easy to Use—Using Uber Health has been easy for both staff and participants, even among populations without smartphones or passengers new to Uber.
by Kendall Brown
Get a discounted lift to the polls on Election Day
By Jonathan Sperling
No MetroCard? No excuse to stay home on Election Day.
Ride-sharing giant Lyft is getting in on Get Out the Vote efforts by offering discounted rides to polling locations in New York City on Election Day.
Use code VOTENYC19 between 4:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. on Election Day to receive 50 percent off the price of a Lyft ride, up to $5. The deal is inspired by the fact that more than 15 million registered voters didn’t vote in 2016 because of transportation issues.
“At Lyft, we’re working to improve lives by connecting people and their communities through the world’s best transportation. This Election Day, we want to help make it easier for people in New York City to get to the polls,” said Lyft’s Director of Public Policy Jen Hensley. “Every voice is important, and we’re excited to help make them heard in this year’s elections.”
Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash kick off $90 million fight against California’s gig worker law
Under the ballot measure, drivers could get earnings guarantee of 120 percent of minimum wage
A group of drivers and couriers for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash launched a new group called Protect App-Based Drivers and Services, which is aimed at passing a ballot initiative in California to counteract the effects of the state’s recently passed gig worker bill. The effort is being supported by the companies, which have vowed to spend $90 million to get the measure passed in 2020.
Assembly Bill 5, which was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on September 18th, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” for determining whether someone is a contractor or employee. Legal experts agree the law will make it more difficult for gig economy companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to classify their drivers and couriers as independent contractors. And the companies have argued that the law represents an existential threat to their business models.
As such, the companies were preparing this contingency plan even before Newsom signed the bill into law. On August 29th, The New York Times reported that Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash would spend $90 million ($30 million each) to pass a ballot initiative that would essentially exempt them from the law. (InstaCart is also involved, but it hasn’t committed to spend any money to support its passage.) The hope was that after striking out with lawmakers and labor groups, the companies could win a reprieve by appealing directly to voters.
The ballot measure would ask voters to approve the following:
- At least 120 percent of the minimum wage
- $0.30 per mile for expenses such as gas and vehicle wear-and-tear
- Health care subsidies consistent with employer contributions under the Affordable Care Act for drivers who work 15 hours a week or more
- Occupational accident insurance to cover on-the-job injuries
- Automobile accident and liability insurance
- Protection against discrimination and sexual harassment
- Recurring background checks of drivers
- Mandatory safety training of drivers
- Zero tolerance for alcohol and drug offenses
- A cap on driver hours per day to prevent sleepy driving
It’s a new spin on the failed proposal that Uber and Lyft presented to state officials as a compromise to prevent the passage of AB5. The companies had promised to pay their drivers $21 an hour (but only while on a trip), provide them with sick leave, and “empower” them to “have a collective voice” — a nod toward drivers forming a union.
After AB5 passed, though, Uber and Lyft warned that drivers could lose their flexibility to drive when they wanted. “Drivers would not be able to choose when to sign on anytime they want it,” Tony West, Uber’s general counsel, said in September. “They would work in shifts like every other employee works in shifts.” Experts have said there is nothing in federal or state law that precludes Uber from offering its drivers the same flexibility as employees as they have now as contractors.
(West also claimed that Uber could ultimately pass the ABC test because “drivers’ work is outside the usual course of Uber’s business.”)
The ballot measure is a risky — and costly — move for Uber and Lyft, insofar as it could further antagonize labor unions that have been hugely influential over the passage of AB5. Unions championed the bill throughout the legislative process, and have been at the center of the fight over gig work in California.
“This measure is another brazen attempt by some of the richest corporations in California to avoid playing by the same rules as all other law-abiding companies in our state,” Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, said in a statement. “California’s unions will join drivers who want fair wages, better treatment and flexibility to defeat this corporate ploy.”
Meanwhile, union-backed groups and other supporters of AB5 are planning to protest outside the homes of key Uber investors, including Uber board member and Benchmark Capital partner Bill Gurley.
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