Uber Pilots New Airport Pickup Feature

California is making the news again by enacting a new law that will require companies like DoorDash and Uber Eats to be more transparent. Also in the news this week is Uber, which is testing the ability to order your Uber based on your flight departure and arrival times. All this and more in this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins.

Uber pilots new features to reserve rides at airports (Tech Crunch)

Summary: Uber is piloting new app features aimed at making air travel more hassle-free, including the ability to reserve rides from airports, gain access to enhanced curbside pickup, request a ride once you land and order food in advance from airport restaurants for pickup.

Uber Reserve at Airports will allow users at 20 major airports across the U.S. — including LaGuardia, JFK, Miami International, Dallas/Fort Worth and Ronald Reagan International — to book a ride up to 30 days in advance. The new feature, which includes complimentary wait time of up to one hour, is connected to airport departure and arrival KPIs so it can track flights and automatically adjust reservations if a flight is delayed or early. Uber has also upped its machine learning technology to allow for a feature that helps match riders waiting at airport curbsides with drivers more quickly.

While it’s not exactly news that a car service is going to start accepting airport reservations, this move demonstrates how Uber is using its brand recognition to pivot away from on-demand and toward more traditional black car services. The announcement comes at a time when Uber is working to increase revenues after massive losses last quarter. With air travel beginning to climb back up to 2019 levels, the company has a chance to offer a more luxury, bespoke (and expensive) service to riders.

My Take: Call me a pessimist, but I see all kinds of problems arising with this feature. The main issue being when drivers pull up to pick up their passenger, who is still in the terminal waiting for their baggage.

Most airports don’t allow drivers to pull up and just sit to wait for their passengers. It clogs up the system and causes traffic issues. Plus, it’s a waste of time for drivers.

What about passengers who miss their connections or miss their flight altogether? Do you think they’ll remember to go into their Uber app to cancel their ride?

There are a lot of pieces that will need to go into this to make it successful and I doubt Uber has addressed even half of the issues that will need to be tackled.

Uber faces legal action in UK over racial discrimination claims (CNN)

Summary: Uber is facing legal action over its use of facial recognition software that allegedly discriminates against people of color.

Three former workers have launched employment tribunal claims in the United Kingdom against Uber, accusing the company of unfair dismissal after its facial recognition system failed to identify them.

The legal claims were launched this week with help from two unions, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU). Union officials and Uber drivers staged a protest outside the company’s offices in London on Wednesday.

The unions allege that Uber’s facial recognition system, which is used to verify the identity of drivers and couriers, is not able to effectively identify people with darker skin. Some drivers say their Uber (UBER) accounts were terminated because the technology does not work….

My Take: Everybody knows that technology doesn’t work 100% of the time. There are glitches, mistakes, coding errors, etc.

That being said, to terminate a driver because your own technology doesn’t work is not right. If you’re going to require facial recognition to be part of your process of ensuring it’s the correct driver behind the wheel, you need to take into account technical errors and glitches and just plain shortfalls of your system.

A Small War Over Bike Lanes May Be an Uber and Lyft Conspiracy (Gizmodo)

Summary: If you live in New York City, you are a pedestrian or you are a driver, and you’re enmeshed in a war over streets that hits everyone’s wallets and time. Now, an extraordinary alliance has emerged: a militant local bike lane group, backed by Uber and Lyft, is battling car owners over hundreds of free parking spots. Some suspect a massive conspiracy by rideshare companies to scoop up the streets for themselves. They may be onto something.

Flyers are up; Nextdoor.com is on fire; a petition now has over 1,000 signatures.

Bear with me for a detour into the parking situation: The turf is a desolate parking lot under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway where a bike lane and walkway will cut out a precious 680 free parking spaces. The city plans to meter the remaining 400 spots at an outrageous $1.50/hour, enforced for an unusually long stretch of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday….

My Take: I obviously can’t take sides in this because 1) I’m not a New Yorker and 2) I can see the value in the free parking space and the bike lane options.

I’m just going to take this chance to quote the article in what I deem the main takeaway for why Uber and Lyft are likely funding this kind of project:

“Uber and Lyft have stated that they want to eliminate parking in order to “reclaim public space” and “ease the pain of parking tickets.” Obviously, though they don’t say it, less parking attracts residents without cars—and a heavier reliance on the companies’ services.”

Instacart is acquiring catering software company FoodStorm (Tech Crunch)

Summary: On-demand grocery delivery platform Instacart announced this morning that it’s acquiring FoodStorm, a SaaS order management system (OMS) that powers end-to-end order-ahead and catering for grocery retailers. The companies have not disclosed the financial details of the deal, but as part of the acquisition, Instacart will integrate FoodStorm’s technology into its suite of enterprise grocery e-commerce solutions.

FoodStorm has developed a SaaS offering that covers multi-channel ordering, order management, payment and fulfillment. Its technology also integrates with several third-party systems, including point-of-sale systems (POS). The technology also offers CRM capabilities that help grocers collect feedback and leverage promotional features.

“Our goal is to help our retail partners increase their sales and ensure more of their customers’ everyday meals come from the grocery store. That’s why we’re excited to welcome the talented FoodStorm team to Instacart and integrate their end-to-end, order-ahead and catering platform into Instacart’s leading enterprise offering,” said Instacart’s chief technology officer, Mark Schaaf, in a statement….

My Take: There’s always something more. There’s always a company that can be integrated with another to make things flow smoother and better. Companies like Instacart, DoorDash, Uber, all of them, will keep integrating more and more and more into their platforms.

Is it worthwhile? Does it actually make things better and smoother for the consumer? For the driver? For the company? Only time can really tell that story. This isn’t the last partnership we’ll see for these kinds of companies. It seems like every week there’s another pairing.

DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub must disclose hidden fees, give delivery workers all tips under new California law (MarketWatch)

Summary: California will soon give tip protections to delivery workers and require more transparency from DoorDash Inc. and other food-delivery apps under a bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday night.

AB 286 requires delivery apps like DoorDash DASH, -0.19%, Uber Eats UBER, -0.31% and Grubhub GRUB, 0.59% to give delivery workers all their tips. The bill also prohibits food-delivery apps from charging customers more than restaurants do. And it addresses hidden fees by requiring the companies to disclose to restaurants and customers a detailed cost breakdown of each transaction.

“Gig companies have profited during the pandemic by keeping consumers and restaurants in the dark about the true cost of their services,” said state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who wrote the bill, in a statement. “Now, small restaurants and their customers will know what they’re being charged upfront and get to see exactly how much is actually benefiting the restaurant.”

The bill, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2022, is the latest of many efforts to regulate the burgeoning app-based food-delivery industry. At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year, municipalities adopted emergency delivery-fee caps. This year, San Francisco and New York City enacted permanent fee caps, sparking lawsuits from DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub. And New York City last month passed first-in-the-nation legislation that would establish minimum pay for delivery workers, give them access to restaurant bathrooms and more….

My Take: Much like with the NYC story above, my opinion here doesn’t really matter since I do not live in California and will not be directly affected by this new law.

I do agree with the basics of it, however. All of these apps should have more transparency, especially when it comes to earnings/pay. Plus, on the customer side of things, I agree that these companies shouldn’t be allowed to charge more than the restaurant does for the food.

What other laws do you think should be put in place to regulate rideshare and gig apps?

-Paula @ RSG