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5 min read

    5 min read

    The life of an Uber driver is not easy – and especially not now. In this week’s roundup, senior RSG contributor John Ince covers how driving is harder than ever, layoff news from Uber and Lyft, plus how Lyft is working with telemedicine in order to bring some reassurance to drivers.

    Driving for a living is tougher than ever — thanks to Uber  [NYPost]

    Sum and Substance:  I’ve driven with Uber for almost seven years — over 13,000 trips.

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    On March 19, I started feeling a pain in my chest, and feeling very tired for no reason. I called my doctor, who promptly got me tested for COVID-19. It came back positive. I’m 64 years old, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was lucky. I cleared the virus, and then I realized that there was no work.

    When my doctor gave me the note to isolate until the test results came back, I contacted Uber. It had made a big show of how it was going to support its drivers. …

    My Take:  Here it is. Uber responds, but only after the driver has gone to the media. I wish there were a better way, but this is the one thing that Uber responds to.

    Lyft partners with One Medical to provide drivers with access to virtual care and COVID-19 screening at no cost [Lyft]

    Sum and Substance:  Lyft will now connect drivers with One Medical’s Essential Workers program, for access to a free 30-day trial membership, on-demand virtual care at no cost, and access to COVID-19 testing.

    One Medical is a national tech-powered, membership-based primary care practice that has been working since the early stages of the outbreak to expand access to virtual care and testing for those in need, including frontline and essential workers who are providing key services during this time. Lyft drivers will have complimentary access to One Medical’s virtual care platform, which includes on-demand digital COVID-19 screenings, on-demand video visits, secure provider messaging and more virtual health resources 24/7.

    One Medical has opened up COVID-19 testing sites in every major metropolitan market with a One Medical presence across the country. This program is already available to drivers in Chicago, Portland, San Diego and Seattle and is now expanding to include the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Phoenix, and Washington D.C.

    My Take:  This is a good start from Lyft, although I do wonder how you test drivers virtually for the virus…

    In theory, COVID-19 testing is supposed to be free, but reporters have found this to be not entirely true in all cases. If you live in these states, you can get access to free testing from CVS, and Walgreens is offering free testing as well.

    Still, taking a free month-long offer from One Medical isn’t a bad idea – just as long as you remember to cancel it before getting billed for the following month.

    Uber CTO departs as company considers laying off 5,400 staffers [SFChronicle]

    Sum and Substance:  Ride-hailing leader Uber, which already lost money hand over fist even before the shelter-in-place orders sent its business plunging, is considering laying off as much as a fifth of its workforce — about 5,400 people, The Information reported on Tuesday.

    … Uber has about 27,000 employees worldwide, with roughly a third of them in San Francisco, where it is headquartered. Those figures do not include its ride-hail drivers, whom the company considers independent contractors. The layoffs could save it about $1 billion a year, The Information said. Uber’s Careers website no longer shows any open positions. …

    My Take:  This is a pretty significant portion of Uber’s workforce. Yet it seems justified.  The question then is… is it enough? Only time will tell on that one.

    The Uncertain Life of New York City’s Immigrant Uber Drivers During the Pandemic [NewYorker]

    Sum and Substance: Rideshare drivers, like other workers in the gig economy, have long had to absorb instability, but the coronavirus pandemic brings added dangers.

    Anil Subba, a Nepalese immigrant in his forties, living in Jackson Heights, Queens, worked as a rideshare driver to support his family. In early March, he picked up a visibly unwell passenger for Uber and drove him from Kennedy airport to Westchester County, a journey that took roughly an hour…

    Then he began to show symptoms of covid-19 and was admitted to Elmhurst Hospital, a public facility in Queens that soon became known as “the epicenter of the epicenter.” He spent the last two days of his life on a ventilator. When he died, after midnight on March 24th, he became one of thirteen patients in the hospital to succumb to their conditions that day, and the first of several dozen drivers in the city who have done so. …

    My Take:  This article is one of the better ones that have been appearing since the pandemic hit, but it makes you feel ill just reading about our fellow drivers. What’s wrong with this picture when a good article makes you feel bad?

    Lyft cuts 17% of workforce [Seeking Alpha]

    Sum and Substance: The company expects to take $28-36M in restructuring charges related to the cuts.

    Lyft’s other cost-cutting measures include furloughing 288 employees and base pay reductions of 30% for executive leadership, 20% for VPs, and 10% for all other exempt employees. Board directors will give up 30% of their cash compensation during Q2.

    My Take:  So it’s come to this.  17% isn’t that much, but this is only what’s happening now.  Wait for the next round…

    rideOS Selected by Alto to Scale Its On-Demand Multi-Service Mobility Business [Yahoo Finance]

    Sum and Substance: rideOS, a leading Mobility as a Service technology provider that empowers businesses to build, operate and scale on-demand transportation offerings, today announced that Alto is utilizing the rideOS platform to manage its elevated rideshare service and accelerate its entry into last-mile delivery. Alto is now taking full-advantage of rideOS’ dynamic fleet planning and constraint-based routing system to optimize its operations.

    Editor’s Note: A very cool partnership here with Alto and RideOS moving into last mile delivery. Obviously, rideshare volume is down but there are still plenty of opportunities in delivery and last mile logistics right now.

    Readers, what do you think of this week’s roundup?

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    -John @ RSG

    John Ince

    John Ince

    John Ince is a former Fortune reporter and Wall Street banker. He has about 1,000 rides under his belt driving part time for Uber and Lyft.  He’s writing a book about his experiences entitled:  Travels With Vanessa:  A Rideshare Driver Tries To Make Sense of It all - For a sneak peak visit the link above.