Safety is always a concern when strangers are put together with minimal protections put in place. With crimes such as carjackings, theft and assaults are on the rise, rideshare drivers are wanting more from the platforms they drive for. Despite these issues, this week Uber CEO cited the “best week ever” for Uber as business is heading back toward pre-pandemic numbers. Let’s dive into this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins.
Uber shares jump after CEO says company just had its ‘best week ever’ (CNBC)
Summary: Shares of Uber jumped Tuesday after CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the rideshare company just had its “best week ever in terms of overall gross bookings.”
Gross bookings typically refers to the company’s combined bookings for both its ride-sharing and delivery businesses, but Khosrowshahi also said the ride-sharing business is recovering nicely.
“Our overall mobility business continues to get closer to pre-pandemic levels,” Khosrowshahi said. “We’re starting to inch up to call it like the 90% mark, we’re not quite there. Last week was our best week, you know, post-pandemic.”
The stock was closed up more than 4% after Khosrowshahi spoke in a digital fireside chat hosted by UBS. The comments also sent shares of competitor Lyft up nearly 1.5% as investors jumped on the signal that demand is increasing for ride-sharing services….
My Take: Despite the most recent variant, Omicron, entering the US recently, it looks like people are over the whole not going anywhere or doing anything bit. So, it makes sense that the rideshare side of the business is picking up once more, getting closer and closer to pre-pandemic levels.
It could also be assumed that people who are vaccinated—and some who are boosted—are feeling more comfortable being out and about once more. I know my sister was one who did not go anywhere or do much of anything during the worst of the pandemic, but now that she’s vaccinated, she’s feeling more comfortable with people coming to visit and she’s even gone out to eat a few times, and taken an Uber for the first time in almost two years.
I’m sure others are in the same boat. They are vaccinated or boosted and are starting to relax a bit more.
Amazon to launch an Instacart-like service in the US next year, report says (CNet)
Summary: Amazon reportedly wants to take its role in the grocery industry to new heights in 2022. The retail giant is planning to launch a new grocery delivery service in the US next year and expand its current service in Europe, according to a report Monday by The Information.
While Amazon has been involved in grocery delivery for years — offering deliveries through Whole Foods or from Amazon warehouses — this new service reportedly allows deliveries from third-party retailers, supermarkets and vendors.
Amazon began offering this new Instacart-like service in the UK this past year, according to The Information. Amazon Prime subscribers are able to order same-day deliveries of groceries from two popular UK supermarkets, Morrisons and Co-op, using the Amazon app and website. Amazon reportedly plans to expand that model across Europe and into the US next year….
My Take: I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, give it a few more years and all services will either look identical, with all the same offerings and features, or they’ll all be bought out by each other.
Apparently ordering fresh grocery food from Amazon warehouses and Whole Foods is not good enough and they need to branch out to include other grocery stores and businesses? Where does it all end? Oh right, with everyone offering the same thing or buying out their competition that they mirrored themselves after….
Uber looking to sell Didi, China market has little transparency, CEO says (Reuters)
Summary: Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) is looking to sell stakes in non-strategic assets including its holding in Beijing-based Didi Global Inc (DIDI.N), its CEO said on Tuesday, who also described the China market as a tough one with little transparency.
The U.S. firm pulled out of China in 2016 after burning through more than a billion dollars a year due to a price war with Didi. It eventually sold its China operations to Didi in exchange for a stake.
Uber owns 12.8% of Didi, according to a filing in June by Didi.
“Our Didi stake we don’t believe is strategic. They’re a competitor, China is a pretty difficult environment with very little transparency,” Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said at a virtual fireside chat with a UBS analyst….
My Take: It sounds like it’s not going to be a one-deal transaction. It’s going to be tackled over time, so it shouldn’t greatly affect Didi’s stock numbers. And I’m sure Uber will do its best to get the most money out of the deal as well. Overall, not a fascinating piece of news, but might have significance later on when it actually takes place.
Uber deactivated some transgender drivers’ accounts for submitting ‘fraudulent’ profile photos taken after they transitioned, a report says (Business Insider)
Summary: Uber has deactivated some transgender drivers’ accounts over what it deemed to be fraudulent profile photos taken after their transitions, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
The ride-hailing app company mistakenly classed some transgender and nonbinary drivers’ ID documents as fraudulent, according to five drivers who spoke to The Times and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) records reviewed by the publication. Some drivers told The Times they weren’t able to recover their driver accounts through Uber’s appeals process.
Zahid Arab, an Uber spokesperson, told The Times that Uber was working to reactivate the drivers’ accounts. “On occasion, requests can be misrouted and result in a regrettable customer experience which we are working to address,” Arab, adding that it was working to ensure that its “background check process runs as expected for transgender and nonbinary users.”
An Uber spokesperson told Insider that the company recognizes that “for transgender and non-binary drivers and delivery people, the name and photo on their ID does not always reflect their true identity,” adding that Uber will continue to improve its processes to “better serve all users.”…
My Take: Is it really surprising that Uber’s technology isn’t transgender-friendly? Or at least not transition-friendly? The recognition technology is iffy at best even when you haven’t completely changed your looks.
However, it’s extremely unfortunate that Uber even has a help page called “I am transgender and need account help” but still deacivated the person reaching out for help. That is not cool. You can’t just pretend like you’re going to help people and then deactivate their account without actually trying to fix the issue.
Uber, you can do better.
Uber, Lyft Drivers Want More Protection as Rising Crime Keeps Many Off the Roads (WSJ)
Summary: Lyft driver Lamont Liner thought he was picking up a regular fare in Chicago late last year. Instead, his passengers pulled out a pistol and stole his car and phone. He hasn’t returned to drive for the app since, even as ride-sharing companies have tried to tempt drivers with more money.
“The money is so good right now,” said the 63-year-old. “But it’s just not worth it to have somebody put a gun to your head.”
Ride-sharing companies Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.—which were already struggling with a shortage of drivers caused by Covid-19 concerns—are grappling with a rise in violent crimes and implementing new safety measures and policies to try to better protect the drivers still on their systems. Drivers aren’t returning as quickly as consumers, despite big bonuses from companies and the expiration of temporary unemployment benefits extended to gig workers.
Overall homicide offenses in the U.S. jumped more than 20% in 2020 compared with 2019, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data. Law-enforcement agencies say crime has continued to climb this year.
While the companies declined to share data on attacks on their drivers, available data in some cities suggest drivers are getting caught up in a surge of carjackings, murders and other violent crimes. In Minneapolis, 494 carjackings were reported through Nov. 11, up 279% from those reported throughout 2019, according to a spokesman for the city’s police. Ride-share drivers accounted for 11% of those cases. In Chicago, a police spokesman said that carjackings through Nov. 10 were up 36% compared with the same period last year. In Oakland, Calif., official data show carjackings through Nov. 7 were up 85% compared with the same period last year and 144% from the comparable 2019 period….
My Take: One thing that caught my attention later on in the article was this: “Ride-sharing companies say background checks aren’t required for other forms of transportation such as trains and planes, adding that they are heavily regulated, expensive and time-consuming.”
It’s being used as an argument against doing background checks on passengers. While it’s true that you don’t need a background check to get on a plane or train, there are other standards of safety in place that protect the workers on these types of transportation.
For example, you go through security checks. Literally, you go through metal detectors and everything you bring with you is scanned for dangerous items.
For trains, I’m not fully certain as it’s been probably 20+ years since I’ve taken a train anywhere, but if nothing else, the driver is “cut off” from the rest of the train, so they have some protections in place in that respect.
We reached out to our followers on Facebook to get their take on the crime levels and what action should be taken. Many responses turned political with no facts to back up any statements, but some remained on topic:
David said, “I was assaulted by a Lyft employee one night because I asked her if she had a face mask.”
Kyle’s experience: “I got jumped getting in my car after picking up a DoorDash. Guy was trying to car jack me. He received a size 9.5 steel toe boot to the gut and a 2.5 year sentence.”
And Michael suggested, “The platforms need to allow its drivers to be able to protect themselves.”
Uber and Lyft both have pretty strict firearms and weapons policies that prevent drivers and passengers from carrying any form of lethal weapon or even non-lethal weapons such as tasers.
Granted, not everyone will follow the rules, but those that do are left vulnerable.
While dash cams will not fully prevent crime, it is a deterrent, and if nothing else, an irrefutable eye-witness to any incident that does occur. We here at RSG fully believe that the least a driver can do to protect themselves is to have a dash cam installed in their vehicle. If you don’t have one yet, consider looking into DisplayRide as one option geared toward rideshare drivers.
What’s your take on the rise in crime? What can Uber and Lyft do better to help the safety of drivers?
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-Paula @ RSG