Posts tagged with "Lyft"

California passes landmark bill requiring gig workers to be treated as employees

September 12, 2019

California lawmakers passed a landmark bill (Assembly Bill 5 ) on September 10 that promises to reshape how the peer-to-peer ridesharing and food delivery industries do business.

The legislation passed in a 29 to 11 vote in the State Senate and now moves on to the State Assembly, where if it passes, it will land on the governor’s desk.

The legislation, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020, would require gig economy workers to be reclassified as employees instead of contractors, CNBC reports—affecting the operating plans on which Uber and Lyft base their current success.

But shares of Lyft popped more than 7.8% on Wednesday morning, while Uber climbed more than 4.5% after California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) told the The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he’s still engaged in talks with Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies about possible negotiations around the bill. Newsom recently voiced his support for the bill, the news outlet said.

Additionally, CNBC says, the bill has received broad support from Democratic presidential candidates—among them, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Kamala Harris (D-California), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D).

The bill has the potential to change the employment status of more than 1 million low-wage workers in California, including those at DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart. It will make it harder for gig economy companies to prove that their workers aren’t staff, while ensuring key benefits and protections, like minimum wage, insurance and sick days.

But predictably, AB5 has attracted staunch opposition from gig economy companies. In an effort to push back against the bill, Uber and Lyft proposed establishing $21-an-hour minimum wage for drivers in California. The ride-hailing companies, as well as Doordash, have also pledged $90 million on a ballot initiative for the 2020 election that would exempt them from AB5.

Lyft spokesperson Adrian Durbin told CNBC that the bill has the potential to hurt drivers who prefer a flexible work schedule.

 “Today, our state’s political leadership missed an opportunity to support the overwhelming majority of rideshare drivers who want a thoughtful solution that balances flexibility with an earnings standard and benefits,” Durbin said in a statement. ”…We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers want and need.”

A DoorDash spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the decision, but said it was “committed” to establishing a guaranteed minimum wage, benefits, and other protections for its gig workers.

Representatives from Uber, Postmates and Instacart were not immediately available for comment.

Research contact: @CNBC

Forget carpooling. Zūm, a ride-hailing company for kids, expands to six more U.S. cities

September 3, 2019

Reams of stories have been written about the stress inflicted on children in today’s over-scheduled society. But what about their parents, who must coordinate a schedule to transport or carpool the kids—from music instruction to the baseball diamond to dancing classes to language tutelage, to the stationery store for poster board and paints?

What’s worse, it only takes one hitch in the day to make the whole fraught agenda simply crash and burn. So what’s a parent to do?

Now there’s a company that wants to shuttle the kids for you—and, in doing so, to eliminate (totally or occasionally) your crushing duty to schlep. It’s a ride-hailing company for kids called Zūm.

In addition to being available to swamped moms and dads, Zūm has partnered with dozens of California school districts in recent years and is available to students at 2,000 schools in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, many of which still rely on yellow buses as well, the company recently told The Washington Post.

And on August 29, Zūm —which is accessible to parents through a mobile app and claims it has already completed 1 million rides—announced that it is expanding to a half-dozen other cities around the country, including San Diego, Miami, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago and the Washington D.C. area. Rides will begin in those locations next month.

In Washington D.C., Zūm will compete with HopSkipDrive, ride-hailing service founded by three working mothers in Los Angeles for children ages 6 to 18 that arrived on the East Coast earlier this year.

 In Dallas, Zūm will compete with Bubbl, a ride service staffed by off-duty police officers and first responders—one of many small transportation companies that have popped up around the country in recent years seeking to fill a similar niche, the Post reports.

Such companies could usher in a new era of safer, greener and more data-rich transportation for students that can be tracked by parents in real time.

Investors know that ride-hailing has already been widely adopted by young people, but with a serious caveat that could play into Zūm’s favor: Unaccompanied minors are prohibited from using services like Uber and Lyft, although experts warn that it can be difficult to verify a rider’s age.

Indeed, according to the Post, data from a teen debit card company reveal that “ride-sharing services combined to capture 84% of teen spending on taxi services.” Despite age restrictions, some teenagers use drivers with specialized insurance that allows them to drive younger passengers, the study notes. Unlike Uber or Lyft, Zūm rides are booked the day before and the service is not designed to be on-demand.

Zūm claims its drivers have three years or more of childcare experience. They undergo background checks and SafeSchools training courses and claim their safety protocols are reviewed by KidsAndCars.org, a national non-profit child safety organization. The company says its business model is fundamentally dependent on its ability to keep students safe.

When used by families outside of school, Zūm starts at $10 for carpool rides (per child for a one-way trip) and $16 for a single (non-carpool) ride. But like Uber or Lyft, the company says, prices vary depending on location and time of day. At about $20 a ride, HopSkipDrive is also more expensive than alternatives like Uber and Lyft, but also offers carpooling options that lower prices.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Scoot over, Bird and Lyme: Superpedestrian to offer ‘self-repairing’ electric scooters

December 5, 2018

Emergency rooms are seeing even more cases involving broken noses, wrists, and shoulders; facial lacerations and fractures; and blunt head trauma than they have in the past—especially on the West Coast, where electric-scooter use is trending.

Although no data on scooter injuries has been compiled to date, The Washington Post reports that the handy, scaled-down urban vehicles—which really are a juiced-up version of what used to be a child’s toy—seem to be exposing users to danger.

Indeed, the news outlet says that, as use of the scooters continues surge—and to spread nationwide—manufacturers and marketers of the vehicles have been criticized for deploying models that break apart in use, catch fire, and lull vulnerable riders into a false sense of safety. Many riders do not even use helmets while they are negotiating bumper-to-bumper city traffic.

But now, the Post reported on December 3, a transportation robotics company claims it may have the solution.

Superpedestrian—a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based micro-mobility company that began producing electric bicycles in 2013—told the D.C.-based news outlet this week that it plans to begin producing an “industrial grade e-scooter” capable of operating on a single charge for several days, self-diagnosing mechanical problems and removing itself from circulation using “vehicle intelligence” in 2019.

The average e-scooter life span is about three months, but Assaf Biderman, the company’s founder and CEO—as well as associate director of the MIT Senseable City Laboratory (where the concept for the company’s bike and its innovative Copenhagen Wheel was born)—says Superpedestrian’s e-scooters will be able to remain in circulation for as long as 18 months.

“Shared scooters must be super-robust, require minimal charging and be smart enough to sustain themselves on city streets for prolonged periods of time, all while costing a few hundreds of dollars to produce,” Biderman told the newspaper.

The company’s scooter tops out at around 17 mph but is slightly larger than models available through major companies such as Bird, Lime, Skip, and Lyft. The scooter can travel up to 60 miles on a single charge, the company informed the Post.

Biderman said the larger wheel size and rider base improves safety and sets the model apart from most e-scooters on the market.

What’s more, Superpedestrian’s scooter is capable of self-diagnosing mechanical problems using “vehicle intelligence”—a tool designed to monitor battery voltage and temperature, as well as the device’s motor.

When the scooter encounters a mechanical problem, Biderman said, its scooter performs automated maintenance. If that fails, he added, the scooter opens a support ticket and takes itself offline, making it impossible for customers to ride. Once that occurs, he said, a human mechanic would be alerted to fix the scooter on the ground.

“Compare this to how things currently work, where you rely on users to report that a vehicle has an issue, but if they fail to do so, people can keep riding and be at risk.”

Research contact: peter.holley@washpost.com