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This Week in Rideshare: Passengers, Ballot, and Pay

— April 1, 2022

Drivers are held liable, earnings get political and Washington guarantees pay. LegalRideshare breaks it down.

A joke of a surcharge, a serious pay deal, and potential dose of liability. It’s all here in This Week in Rideshare.

MONDAY 3/28/22

It’s reasonably foreseeable that passengers exiting a vehicle parked along a city street may open a door into traffic, Justice Sandra L. Margulies wrote in the unpublished opinion.

The burden of requiring Uber drivers to choose a reasonably safe place to offload passengers or to warn passengers exiting about oncoming traffic isn’t an unreasonable expectation on crowded streets, Margulies said.

And there’s a triable issue of fact as to where the driver in this case breached his duty to exercise reasonable care in offloading passengers. How reasonable the driver was in selecting a location to drop off his passengers or in failing to check his mirrors or warn passengers exiting the car is a reasonable question of fact for the jury.

Justice Kathleen M. Banke and Judge Rochelle C. East, sitting by designation from the San Francisco Superior Court, joined the opinion.

TUESDAY 3/29/22

“Many drivers say that the fuel surcharges are not enough and they would have preferred to see a per-mile surcharge to account for the increased fuel expenditure on long trips instead of a flat fee,” said Campbell.

A Lyft driver in Orlando, Florida told TechCrunch the $0.55 per trip surcharge is “an insult to the drivers.”

It’s hard to calculate the average rides per driver per day, but to put the fuel surcharges in perspective, if a driver averages 15 fares per day, they will get an additional $8.25 per day at the $0.55 surcharge rate. The average price of gas in the U.S. is $4.246, as of Monday, according to data from the American Automobile Association. A year ago, the average was $2.859.


Graphic of sad, neutral, and smiley faces with man giving feedback; image by mohamed_hassan via pixabay, CC0.
Graphic of sad, neutral, and smiley faces with man giving feedback; image by mohamed_hassan via pixabay, CC0.

Making sense of this Pivot Party can be a bit dizzying. So here’s what I think is happening: As the world emerges from the pandemic, demand for online delivery appears to be softening and valuations are falling. DoorDash shares have cratered by 40% over the last six months; Uber’s by 17%. And as we reported last week, Instacart (which delayed its IPO last fall and remains private) slashed the value of its own shares by 40%. Investors are souring on future growth possibilities for these upstarts, so naturally they’re seeking out the greener pastures of new market segments.

THURSDAY 3/31/22

Nunez took to the steps of Springfield City Hall Wednesday to protest a ballot question in Massachusetts proposed by big tech companies like Uber and Lyft. He said basic worker protections are at risk with the companies not being held to minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment, and workers compensation standards.

“There has to be a middle ground there somewhere,” Nunez said. “We’re making the money for them. Without us, they don’t have the money.”

Uber and Lyft said that the ballot question, if approved, would allow drivers in the Bay State to remain independent contractors, and not employees.

FRIDAY 4/1/22

Drivers in Washington will now get guaranteed pay. Reuters reported:

Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Thursday signed into law a minimum pay standard for Uber (UBER.N) and Lyft (LYFT.O) drivers, making Washington the first U.S. state to implement earnings standards for ride-hail companies.

Drivers across the Northwestern state will earn a minimum of $1.17 per mile and 34 cents per minute with a minimum pay of $3.00 per trip.

Under the new law, drivers will also have access to paid sick time, family medical leave and long-term care programs, and be eligible for workers’ compensation, a U.S. government-mandated program that provides benefits to workers who become injured or ill on the job. Drivers will also be able to appeal should they be removed from the apps.

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