In this week’s roundup, senior RSG contributor John Ince covers new mask mandates from Uber, Uber and Lyft’s fight over gigworker status, and how an innovative company is looking to solve the problem of ‘looking for a quick place to park curbside’ for rideshare and delivery drivers.
Some Uber Passengers Will Soon Need A Selfie To Prove They’re Wearing A Mask [Forbes]
Sum and Substance: Beginning in late September, an Uber passenger who rides maskless once will be required to send a selfie clearly showing a mask covering their mouth and nose in order to ride again, the company said Tuesday, adding that either the driver or passenger can cancel a trip, without penalty, if the other person isn’t wearing a mask
The new policy for selfies comes as companies employing front-line workers are spending millions to try to keep their staff members safe as coronavirus spreads, even as the political debate about mask wearing in the United States continues.
My Take: This looks to be a sensible policy although it’s sure to cause a lot of angst and confusion as it rolls out.
Read more about Uber’s new safety announcements here.
Uber and Lyft face “day of reckoning” [SanDiegoUnionTribune]
Sum and Substance: … AB 5 codified the ABC test adopted by the California Supreme Court in its landmark 2018 Dynamex ruling. Under that test, workers are presumed to be employees unless the hiring entity can show: (A) the worker performs relatively free of the hiring entity’s control; and (B) the work performed is outside the “usual course” of the hiring entity’s business; and (C) the worker is regularly engaged in an independent trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work done for the hiring entity.
This AB 5 dispute, like many others, focused on whether the companies could pass part B of the test. Judge Schulman said there was “an overwhelming likelihood” the companies would be unable to do so, entitling the People to a preliminary injunction.
My Take: This article lays out the argument very clearly and it doesn’t come out well for Uber and Lyft. Uber and Lyft try to muddy the issues because confusion is their ally. Election day 2020 is looking very big… in more ways than one.
Read more about Proposition 22 and how it affects drivers in almost every state here.
Uber Gets Boost in Bid to Keep London License [Bloomberg.com]
Sum and Substance: Regulators signaled they would take a neutral stance on a new London license for Uber Technologies Inc., offering a route for the ride hailing firm to continue to operate in its biggest European market.
The London transport authority plans to leave the final decision to a judge, an attorney for Uber said in a filing for a court hearing Friday. The decision essentially mirrors the process through which Uber was given a 15-month license two years ago.
“The question whether, in the light of the changes made by Uber London since the decision, it is now a fit and proper person, is one for the court,” Tim Ward, a lawyer for Uber said in the filing,
My Take: So London is looking good for Uber. We won’t know for sure until the hearing next month. But if history is any guide, Uber will soon be getting a new lease on life in London.
‘A totally different ballgame’: Inside Uber and Lyft’s fight over gig worker status [CNET]
Sum and Substance: Veena Dubal couldn’t stop her mind from reeling. It was around midnight on March 29 and coronavirus lockdowns were in effect. She says she paced back and forth between her three young children’s rooms making sure each one was OK. She tried to convince herself she was overreacting. It didn’t work.
Earlier in the day, she’d received a text message from a friend telling her to look at Twitter. Dubal, an employment labor law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and a vocal critic of Uber and Lyft, opened the app. She’d been getting an unusual amount of hateful tweets over the past few weeks, but that didn’t prepare her for what she saw — her home address, salary and husband’s name broadcast on the social media site by someone she says had been one of her most relentless critics. “Our dear Veena may be hording (sic) a lot of clams,” read the tweet by @BlueUrpi in reference to Dubal’s salary.
“I kept thinking, ‘Oh my god, all of these crazy people on Twitter now have my home address and are going to do something horrible,'” Dubal says, still noticeably rattled several months later. “They know I’m at home. I’m a sitting target.”
My Take: This is a significant article because it details how Uber, Lyft and DoorDash are spending the hundred million dollars they have dedicated to the effort to pass Prop 22. As a focal point the author of the article chooses Veena Dubai, but it could be anyone. The money is going to organizations that have a history of supporting questionable causes. If Prop 22 passes, it will be because these shady groups knew exactly what they were doing.
Read more on Proposition 22 here.
Startups race to show what alternatives to Uber and Lyft could look like for California drivers [CNN]
Sum and Substance: Uber and Lyft, which have built up massive fleets of drivers by treating them as independent contractors, are in the midst of a heated legal battle over how its drivers are classified in the state. Both recently threatened to shut down their services in the state rather than comply with a court order to reclassify their drivers as employees.
The future of these workers is uncertain, as a new worker classification in CA, known as AB-5, went into effect on Jan. 1. In late August, the ride-hailing companies were granted a temporary reprieve from complying with the law, and they continue to fight against it applying to the drivers on their platforms. Uber and Lyft support a referendum on the ballot in November that seeks to exempt them from the law.
In the meantime, some startups see a chance to show alternative models to the behemoth ride-hail platforms, including what it’s like for drivers to fully control how and to whom they provide a service….
My Take: So they’re lining up with alternative models. Here are just two … you can be sure there will be more.
Learn more about delivery service Dumpling here.
Read more about Uber and Lyft alternatives here.
New parking technology aims to manage curb space virtually [Washington Post]
Sum and Substance: D.C. is the first U.S. city to test a system that sends real-time information about curbside parking availability to delivery drivers — a move its developer hopes will make food deliveries more efficient and reduce driver stress.
In addition to telling drivers whether space is available, the system also sends information about the size of available spots so drivers can tell whether their vehicles will fit.
“We’re effectively greasing the wheels of the delivery economy,” said Ali Vahabzadeh, founder of CurbFlow.
According to Vahabzadeh, the system relies on a collection of “computer vision devices” installed in windows of participating businesses. The units, which include a camera and microprocessor, record when curb space is occupied near the shop and relay that information to the drivers. The hope is having that information in hand will enable drivers to find parking more quickly, eliminating the need to double-park or endlessly circle the block, Vahabzadeh said.
Editor’s Note: In busy cities, having more information about curbside availability could be game-changer. How many times have you driven around the block to find a place to quickly park while you pick someone (or some food item) up? It’s a hassle – and dangerous. This looks to solve the problem.
Read more about managing curbs here.
Drivers, what do you think of this week’s roundup?
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-John @ RSG