NYC considers requiring Uber, other services to provide tipping option in apps

Ola-Uber

Ola-Uber

Many regular users of app-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber are busy chalking out their travel plans for Tuesday, as the drivers have called for a strike once again. "Of course, if you want to tip your driver-we estimate riders offer tips on only a very small number of trips-you're free to do so, and drivers are free to accept".

Today, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission said it was considering enacting a new rule that would require vehicle service companies like Uber to offer a way to tip that was commensurate with the method of payment.

The guild, set up a year ago to advocate for drivers, started a campaign last summer to pressure Uber to add a tipping feature in its app. Uber was "unable to move on the option", said guild founder Jim Conigliaro, so the guild brought the issue to the taxi commission.

What about you, reader? So drivers only make their cut of the Uber fare, no more. Lyft started offering in-app tipping in 2012, and the company says its drivers have pulled in $200 million in tips since.

The ruling followed an April 6 hearing at the TLC on industry economics, at which a succession of drivers testified to the difficulty of making a living in an increasingly crowded market.

As New York City goes, so goes the nation?


"Uber is always striving to offer the best earning opportunity for drivers and we are constantly working to improve the driver experience", Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said in a statement.

Now, Uber is weakened, and the company's foes smell blood in the water. Lyft, the No. 2 service in the city, includes a tipping option, as does newcomer Juno, though it is only activated when a driver receives a five-star rating. The ride-hail giant claimed drivers in NY made more than $90,000 a year, but the agency found the median income of drivers there is $29,000 less than that.

The TLC announced today it was supporting a petition by the Independent Drivers Guild (which amassed more than 11,000 signatures) which suggested drivers were missing out on thousands of dollars of income because of the lack of a tipping option, or up to 300 million cumulatively.

In a statement, the ride-hailing app said it looked forward to reviewing the TLC's proposal. Worker advocates continue to push for policies that would require Uber to treat its drivers as employees, rather than independent contractors.

Of course, finding a solution than makes drivers, riders, and Uber itself happy will be more nuanced and require more back and forth than what I can come up with in the space of a blog post, but point is a compromise exists somewhere; Uber just has to put in the work to find it.

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