With the pandemic upending the way everyone goes about their daily lives, we all knew change was inevitable. But one thing many people likely didn’t consider was that ridesharing might not bounce back as readily as one might hope. Today, senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins shares a news story where Uber and Lyft customers have reverted back to calling taxis because rides on the major rideshare platforms are no longer affordable or reliable. She also covers news of Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchen startup.
Lack of ride share drivers leads to taxi services making comeback in Las Vegas [8 News Now]
Summary: There is demand for Uber and Lyft rides in Southern Nevada but not enough drivers on the road. While it frustrates locals and visitors, it is helping bring business back to a certain service.
“It took us like 20-25 minutes to wait for the Uber,” Julia Caesar said.
“We ordered a Lyft and we waited and waited and it was 30 minutes or so and it still didn’t show up,” Andrew Ager said.
Some at the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign noticed problems when ordering a Lyft or Uber — a trend making Caesar and others consider another option.
With locals and visitors having issues with ridesharing services, some taxi cab companies are now seeing a demand in business….
My Take: Are we really surprised by this? What I’m surprised by is the passengers are complaining about a 25 minute wait. I’ve seen complaints online where people have waited hours to not be paired with any driver at all because there are none in the area.
Just this week on Reddit there was someone who posted: “Why is it so hard to get an Uber still? It’s been over a year now! It keeps getting worse.”
Someone commented back with a post that someone wrote a month ago explaining the top reasons why you might not be readily finding a driver these days. Those reasons include, but are not limited to: bad pay for drivers, drivers receiving unemployment income + stimulus checks, health concerns—in case you missed it, we’re still in a pandemic—and that delivery jobs have been more profitable so drivers are on those platforms instead.
Now, there are arguments one could make for a few of those points. As far as the pandemic is concerned, more and more people are getting vaccinated, which in turn should make it safer to drive as far as health is concerned. BUT, then you still have the unemployment and stimulus to factor in. Drivers may be making less overall with unemployment and the extra $300 a week from the federal government, but they are not putting wear and tear on their cars, they are able to relax and do what needs done around the house/build toward a plan B/etc.
So, back to the article about people relying on taxis now. If rideshare drivers aren’t on the road, who else do you think these passengers will turn to? They may still check the Uber and Lyft apps before deciding to go with a taxi, but if they are finding taxis are more affordable, more reliable and will show up in a reasonable amount of time, it’s really not surprising they’ll take that option instead.
Uber is recruiting drivers. Some existing drivers are upset [CNN]
Summary: When the coronavirus took hold in the United States, ride-hail drivers watched their income evaporate. With people largely staying at home, there were drastically fewer people to transport. Now facing renewed demand from passengers, Uber has announced a $250 million “stimulus” that will fund incentives to entice drivers back onto the road. But some fear this short-term infusion of cash into the company’s driver program will depress driver wages once more drivers are active and the funds run out.
But drivers know the good times won’t last — and a big reason is because Uber won’t let them.
For Uber, the goal is getting passengers into cars as quickly as possible, at a price they won’t balk at, at any given time of day. High prices — and, in effect, high driver pay — are bad for business. And Uber is now aggressively trying to get drivers back on the road as the vaccine rollout accelerates and the economy opens up….
My Take: Ok, so in one article there aren’t enough drivers on the road, in the next, we’re talking about Uber recruiting drivers (which makes sense to get drivers back on the road), but hear me out. There are also people posting on Reddit about oversaturation in their markets already, presumably from these incentives that Uber is giving to get drivers on the road.
So, Uber is getting all these new drivers onto their platform to fill the void of their drivers who are not driving due to health concerns, to collect unemployment or whatever reason a driver has to not be on the road right now.
What happens when those drivers want to come back and you have all these new drivers too? There won’t be enough rides for any driver to be out there making any kind of worthwhile cash, so then they’ll drop off the platforms like flies and we start all over again.
What’s the solution? Well, the obvious one to most drivers is…pay your drivers a decent wage to begin with and maybe you’d have better loyalty. Incentives that last a day, a week, or a month are great, but not reliable and not a realistic way for drivers to know what their earnings can be on a regular basis.
Raise our base pay, raise our per mile and per minute pay. Keep your millions of dollars in incentives and reinvest in your veteran drivers who have stuck with you. Move toward a business model that actually rewards loyalty instead of just rewarding someone for being new and not knowing what they are doing.
Go read this deep dive into Uber founder Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens startup [The Verge]
Summary: As Uber founder Travis Kalanick prepared to leave Uber’s board of directors in 2019, he was already hyping his next venture: a startup called CloudKitchens that rents out space to restaurants for delivery-only services. He predicted at the time that the startup would be “bigger than Uber.” The Wall Street Journal reported last October that CloudKitchens had purchased more than 40 properties in some two dozen cities, for more than $130 million.
But a new report from Insider suggests that many of the tactics that became infamous at Uber — the always be hustlin’ mentality and aggressive internal culture — are in place at CloudKitchens.
It seems like the strategies that propelled Uber to be (at one time) one of the most valuable startups in the world are in effect at Kalanick’s new venture. Whether CloudKitchens suffers the same fall from grace (and rebound) that Uber did is still very much up in the air. Go read this excellent deep dive by Insider that delves into the dark corners of the hot startup company….
My Take: I started driving for Uber at the very tail end of Kalanick’s reign at Uber. I don’t have a lot of experience with his style of operating a business. I do remember that tipping was not allowed in the app until after he left, though, so that’s something, I suppose.
I’d be more curious to know what our readers think of this. Do you think Kalanick will succeed with CloudKitchens or will he be ousted or asked to resign when things get out of hand—which, I’m assuming, things will get out of hand?
A Postmates customer is going viral after sharing her heartwarming response to driver’s car accident: ‘Everybody OK?’ [Yahoo!]
Summary: A Postmates delivery customer is going viral after sharing the unusual way she picked up her food.
TikTok user @juicybodygoddess shared the encounter in a video that now has more than 1.2 million views. The heartwarming clip is sparking a wide-ranging conversation about why it’s important to tip delivery drivers.
The video begins with @juicybodygoddess walking through a parking lot. She then proceeds to explain that, on his way to drop off her food, her Postmates delivery driver was involved in a car accident.
My Take: Am I the only one who doesn’t really find this story heartwarming? I mean, yeah it’s great that she went and made sure the driver was ok, but filming it (I may technically be a millennial, but I never understood the concept of filming everything you do), posting about it….and asking for your food? It just seems staged and for effect.
It doesn’t feel like she was actually concerned for the driver. It came off as her only caring about the food and the publicity she knew would likely come from posting something like this. And, I guess it worked because even I’m talking about it.
Would you ever film your delivery driver if they were in an accident near the delivery site? Would you have asked for your food after knowing the driver was ok? Am I just weird for not finding this heartwarming?
-Paula @ RSG