Get a package delivered to your house recently? There’s a good chance it traveled by truck to get there. Roughly 80 percent of all cargo in the United States is transported by the 7.1 million people who drive flatbed trailers, dry vans, and other heavy lifters for the country’s 1.3 million trucking companies. It’s an industry that’s forecast to grow 75 percent by 2026 — and it’s one Uber wants to dominate.
Today, the peer-to-peer ridesharing, food delivery, and transportation company announced an expansion of the Uber Freight service it launched last year: Uber Freight for shippers. Starting today, small and mid-sized businesses can tap into Uber’s network of carriers and drivers from their desktop and, with a single tap, book a freight delivery.
“At Uber, we’re really good at matching supply and demand with technology and really strong operations excellence on the ride side,” Eric Berdinis, product lead at Uber, told VentureBeat in an interview. “With Uber Freight, the goal is to make moving freight across the country as seamless and easy as ordering a ride.”
The problem with freight shipments today is their “opaqueness,” Berdinis explained. There’s often ambiguity around the status of loads, the timing of pickups and dropoffs, and drivers’ delivery records.
“It requires a lot of phone calls and emails,” he said. “We set out to bring transparency and fairness to the process.”
To that end, when businesses schedule a delivery through Uber Freight for shippers, they get the prices upfront in the Uber Freight app — whether it’s a short-haul dropoff at a distribution center or a 500-mile long-haul trip. Customers are matched intelligently to carriers in Uber’s network and see a real-time, mutually agreed-upon quote that’s determined by market conditions and “other factors.”
“We’re making our diverse, reliable network of carriers and truck drivers available to small and mid-market shippers,” Stefan Sohlstrom, product manager at Uber, said, “and we’re making shippers know about status changes and updates.”
Uber Freight shipments are tracked at every stage of fulfillment: (1) when drivers are assigned, (2) after the load is tendered at the point of origin, (3) and the moment they’ve been delivered. Freight in transit can be traced at any time from the Uber Freight dashboard — a blinking blue dot on the in-app digital route map indicates its real-time location.
Berdinis said that the expanded Uber Freight has been piloted with select customers over the past several months, and that one of the largest — Chicago-based material package company Premier Packaging — managed to shave three to four hours a day off of freight unpacking with it.
“The Uber Freight platform takes the stress out of the booking process,” Jeannine Arzillo, customer service representative at Premier Packaging, said. “Our loads are consistently picked up and delivered on time, and we can book, file away, and follow up on delivery day, always confident that our loads are where they need to be. Uber Freight’s transparency also allows us to make fully informed booking decisions up front. When we enter date and location information, we can see an instant quote, and the time it takes to confirm loads is cut in half.”
Niagara Bottling, another Uber Freight client, upped the number of loads hauled by Freight drivers from 10,000 last year to 50,000 this year.
With today’s wide rollout of Uber Freight, Uber’s going after a more substantial chunk of the $726 billion in revenue the trucking industry generates annually. It comes on the heels of a nationwide push in June, when it branched out from select metro regions to cover the entire continental United States, and the introduction of a fleet management mode for small shipping companies.
But Uber isn’t the only one. Seattle-based Convoy, which raised $62 million in 2017 from backers including Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, boasts a platform — Dynamic Backup — that builds routing guides from real-time, guaranteed prices for contractual freight. And Transfix, which operates in New York, operates an online marketplace that matches loads to drivers.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that Uber Freight faces internal challenges, most recently the shuttering of its self-driving truck division, the departure and return of Freight executive Lior Ron, and a shortage of truck drivers. (To combat the last of those three problems, Uber in April launched an incentive program — Uber Freight Plus — offering discounts on fuel, tires, maintenance, and the purchase of new and used vehicles.)
An Uber spokesperson told CNN that despite the setbacks, Uber Freight remains one of Uber’s “fastest-growing and most promising businesses” and that the company’s investment in Freight more than doubled in early August. Time will tell whether that momentum is sustainable.
Taxi driver dies after setting himself on fire to protest carpool app
A South Korean taxi driver set himself on fire and died Monday to protest a carpooling service proposed by a company that operates the country’s most popular chat app.
The 57-year-old driver doused himself in a flammable liquid and then lit his clothing while sitting in a taxi near parliament, police and the fire department said.
Unionized taxi drivers have held rallies in the capital, Seoul, to protest the carpooling app proposed by Kakao Mobility, which they say threatens their jobs.
Kakao Mobility, the transportation service arm of top mobile messenger operator Kakao Corp., said Friday it was testing the carpooling app despite opposition from taxi drivers who want the government to refuse permission for the service.
“We are still in the middle of a tug-of-war against the government to stop the carpool service,” said an official at the Korea National Joint Conference of Taxi Association.
A spokeswoman for Kakao Mobility said the company extended its sympathies to the family of the taxi driver.
“We feel sorry and sad and express our condolences,” the spokeswoman said. She declined further comment.
The transport ministry was not immediately available for comment.
NY: Uber, Lyft drivers secure $17.22 minimum wage in new TLC rules
Tens of thousands of drivers with Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services in the city are set to receive a hefty pay raise.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission’s Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve the Driver Income and Transparency Rules, which guarantee a minimum hourly wage of $17.22 (after expenses) to more than 80,000 drivers who work for larger app-based companies such as Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno. A higher minimum wage also was set for drivers with wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
The new rules mean 96 percent of ride-hail drivers in the city will get an additional $10,000 in income per year, according to the TLC.
“New York City is the first city globally to recognize that the tens of thousands of men and women who are responsible for providing increasingly popular rides that begin with the touch of a screen deserve to make a livable wage and protection against companies from unilaterally reducing it,” TLC chair Meera Joshi said following the vote. “Convenience costs, and going forward, that cost will no longer be borne by the driver.”
Drivers will be paid based on a per-minute, per-mile minimum trip formula once the rules go into effect, which is expected to happen by mid-January 2019.
Ride-hail companies will be responsible for ensuring drivers are paid appropriately based on the new rules. The TLC also will be making a wage calculator available on its website so that drivers can determine how much their employer should be paying them.
Uber and Lyft on Tuesday warned that the new rules stifle competition in the industry and would result in higher fares for customers while decreasing availability.
“Uber supports efforts to ensure that full-time drivers in NYC — whether driving with taxi, limo or Uber — are able to make a living wage, without harming outer borough riders who have been ignored by yellow taxis and underserved by mass transit,” Uber’s director of public affairs Jason Post said. “The TLC’s implementation of the City Council’s legislation to increase driver earnings will lead to higher than necessary fare increases for riders while missing an opportunity to deal with congestion in Manhattan’s central business district.”
The TLC also did not consider that some companies issue driver incentives and bonuses to ensure reliability and accessibility in areas outside of Manhattan when it came up with the new wage formula, according to Post.
Describing the rules as a “step backward for New Yorkers,” Lyft took issue with a loophole in the wage calculator that it said allows companies to petition for their own, lower utilization rate within the formula. The company also argued against an “eleventh-hour” rule addition that sets a different minimum pay rate for trips that take drivers outside of the five boroughs.
“Lyft believes all drivers should earn a livable wage and we are committed to helping drivers reach their goals,” a spokesman for Lyft said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the TLC’s proposed pay rules will undermine competition by allowing certain companies to pay drivers lower wages, and disincentive drivers from giving rides to and from areas outside Manhattan.”
While ride-hail companies oppose the regulations, the Independent Drivers Guild, representing over 70,000 for-hire vehicle drivers in the city, lauded the decision.
“All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America,” said Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild.
Via also welcomed the new wage rules on Tuesday.
“As the industry leader in driver earnings in New York City, we are looking forward to working with the TLC on implementing this rule,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Joshi, meanwhile, said that she believes New Yorkers would be willing to pay more and wait a little longer if it meant their drivers are being paid a fair wage.
New York City taxi and rideshare drivers to receive a living wage
We’ve talked before about how hard it is for folks driving for Lyft and Uber to break even. Things aren’t so hot for cab drivers, either: as ridesharing becomes more prevalent by the day, those who own their own taxi or drive for someone else are finding it harder to make a living. The drop in revenue going into the pockets of New York City Taxi medallion owners has been so extreme that drivers have been forced to work 100-hour weeks just to stay out of the red. Others, feeling that their lives were ruined by mounting debt, out of desperation committed suicide. Today, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission decided that they’d do something about it.
Today, New York’s City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved measures to enact minimum pay requirements for app-based for-hire vehicles (FHV) like Uber, Lyft, and Juno. The new pay structure is set to take effect early in the new year.
The $26.51 per hour gross pay floor (estimated to amount to $17.22 per hour, less expenses) comes after “growing evidence of declining driver pay” was confirmed by a labor study, commissioned by the TLC, which concluded that 85 percent of drivers in NYC were earning less than the local minimum wage of $15 an hour. The new requirements will increase the average driver’s take-home pay by an estimated $9,600 per year.
Advocacy groups like the Independent Driver’s Guild and Amalgamated Transit Union have celebrated the change. “All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America,” Conigliaro, Jr., founder of IDG, wrote in a press statement.
So of course, rideshare companies are throwing a fit.
According to Gizmodo, Uber thinks it’s fantastic that their drivers will finally be able to make a living wage, but insinuated that the extra cash required to ensure that their employees can afford to eat AND pay the rent would come out of the pockets of those using the rideshare service. Lyft? They’re thrilled that folks can afford to maybe set their kids up at a decent daycare while simultaneously paying all of their bills. But they warn that “the TLC’s proposed pay rules will undermine competition by allowing certain companies to pay drivers lower wages, and disincentive drivers from giving rides to and from areas outside Manhattan.”
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