Posts tagged with "Uber"

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

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a Wing ‘air carrier,’ now approved by the FAA

April 25, 2019

Logistics has gone upwardly mobile: The Federal Aviation Administration has certified Wing—a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Mountain View, California-based Google—to operate as an airline, in a first for U.S. drone delivery companies, Wing reported on Medium on April 23.

Wing, which began as a Google X project, has been testing its autonomous drones in southwest Virginia and elsewhere.Now, it plans on launching its package-delivery service within months out of a Blacksburg, Virginia, work site.

“This is an important step for the FAA and the drone industry in the United States; the result of years of work to safely integrate drones into the national airspace,” the company said. We’re grateful for the vision of the administration, the Department of Transportation, and the FAA for creating the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) to advance the drone industry in the United States.”

“This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

Company executives said they plan to expand to other parts of Virginia and around the nation, although the timeline for that remains unclear, The Washington Post reported. Uber, UPS and other companies also are working on securing related approvals from federal officials, who have been pushing to expand drone use—even as concerns about security and privacy remain.

Wing executives said they’ll ask residents and businesses in southwestern Virginia what they want delivered, as they have in Australia, where the company received permission to expand operations. Over-the-counter medicines and food are in the mix.

“In the short term, you look at what people do every day, especially people with really busy schedules or parents with young children who have a lot of demands on their time,” Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess told the Post. “Getting what you need late at night or “a healthy meal delivered, hot and fresh, in just a few minutes, can make a pretty transformative impact in quality of life,” he said.

As for how neighbors’ quality of life might be affected by buzzing next-door deliveries, the company said its drones “are quieter than a range of noises you would experience in a suburb, but they make a unique sound that people are unlikely to be familiar with.” Wing said it is working to develop “new, quieter and lower-pitched propellers.”

Wing also has emphasized the importance of community feedback and cooperation with local authorities, the DC-based news outlet said. Before launching Wing’s commercial service in Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, and neighboring Christiansburg later this year, Burgess said, company executives are planning surveys and other outreach, including decidedly analog efforts such as “putting fliers in peoples’ mailboxes and even door-knocking and holding town hall meetings,” Burgess said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost