Platforms like Uber and Lyft often tout safety as their highest priority, but this week’s Uber announcement seemed to be geared a lot more toward the safety of their passengers than their drivers. Also, Instacart has rolled out the ability to order same-day bulk deliveries such as electronics and furniture. Keep reading to uncover the rest of the news with senior RSG contributor Paula Lemar in this week’s roundup.
Instacart now lets you order same-day delivery for large items, including furniture and electronics (TechCrunch)
Summary: Instacart announced today that it’s launching “Big & Bulky,” a new fulfillment capacity that lets customers order same-day and scheduled delivery for large items. At launch, the new feature can be used to order items from Big Lots, Container Store, Mastermind Toys, Office Depot, Spirit Halloween and Staples. The new capability allows users to place orders for several different types of large items, including outdoor furniture, home office supplies and electronics.
The company also notes that the new fulfillment capacity gives delivery people on its platform an additional way to earn money. Shoppers who own a large vehicle may now be eligible to access what Instacart calls “Bulky Batches.” Instacart says batch payment will be based on the number and weight of the items in the order, and “will include heavy pay when applicable.”
Shoppers who have an eligible vehicle can opt in to receive Bulky Batches by tapping “Access More Batches” in the Shopper app. Instacart’s initial test zones showed that 97% of eligible shoppers opted in to deliver Bulky Batches….
My Take: It’s great that shoppers are given the option to opt into this service or not. Just because I drive a minivan doesn’t necessarily mean I want to be carting people’s furniture around. Not all drivers have the physical ability to do these bulky orders, either.
I would also assume that these orders would have some kind of bonus attached because it would take extra care to get these items picked up and delivered.
If you read the article further, it also mentions that small orders are becoming more widely available for those who choose to deliver on an ebike or moped. Since standard orders require more space inside a vehicle, these are geared toward people without access to a car.
Uber overhauls app safety features, including a new way to text 911 (The Verge)
Summary: Uber is overhauling its four-year-old app safety toolkit, adding a new feature for riders to contact security company ADT during rides. The company is also expanding the availability of a feature enabling customers to text 911.
The safety toolkit is a section of Uber’s app through which customers can contact emergency services, report a safety issue to the company, or share their location with a family member or friend. It was first rolled out in 2018 as a way to address the company’s abysmal record on safety. Uber claims its rides are getting safer, and today’s announcement is meant to reflect these improving conditions.
“With so many safety features, it is time for an upgrade,” Rebecca Payne, the company’s lead safety product manager, said in a statement….
My Take: As a passenger, I love these updates. Being able to text an ADT representative when I don’t feel 100% safe sounds amazing. Especially because making a call can escalate a situation you don’t want to escalate. And texting is natural for a passenger to do throughout a trip anyway.
As a driver, I’m disappointed that there isn’t more being done for the safety of the drivers. To the best of my knowledge, a driver must call 911 either through the Uber driver app or through their phone. Granted, texting while driving wouldn’t be a solution by any means, but there has to be some other way of increasing safety measures to protect drivers, like passenger IDs.
Uber and Lyft Drivers in New York Struggle With City’s EV-Charging Divide (Bloomberg)
Summary: Manhattan’s abundance of electric-car chargers is a boon for the burgeoning number of Tesla drivers in New York’s wealthiest borough. But for the vast majority of ride-share drivers who live elsewhere in the Big Apple, that network is largely out of reach.
This EV-charging divide poses a challenge for ride-hailing leaders Uber and Lyft, which need more drivers behind the wheels of electric vehicles to meet their lofty emissions-reduction goals.
Bronx-based Mohammed Islam, 44, typically spends about 30 minutes and roughly $40 to charge his Tesla Model Y SUV inside the parking garage of the Bay Plaza Shopping Center before starting a shift for Uber. It’s a short drive from his home and one of the only public fast chargers in the borough that can power an electric car battery to 80% in half an hour. If it’s too crowded or the chargers don’t work, the closest option is a lower-voltage facility a mile away, where an equivalent charge would take almost eight hours….
My Take: As the driver in this article points out, it may not be gas, but there’s still a cost. Charging takes time, and you’re not picking up passengers when you’re charging. And 8 hours is a long time to be sitting there and waiting for a charge, without making any money.
While it’s a great goal to lower our carbon emissions and switch to EVs, there is a long battle ahead of us. There aren’t enough incentives right now for drivers to make the switch, and the lack of charging stations is just one of the issues.
Also in the news…
Fully Charged LIVE is coming to California!
The world’s number 1 EV show will be at the San Diego Convention Center on 10th & 11th September 2022. Get your tickets now here. Use the code TRANSPORT to get 15% off tickets!
A deep dive in electromobility with Beat and The Ride Share Guy (Beat)
Thoughts: Read the article and listen to the full podcast episode to hear why Harry loves Beat Tesla in Mexico City so much!
Do you think something like Beat Tesla can work in the U.S.?
-Paula @ RSG