Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
Technology | By Tonya May

New York City to Uber: Let People Tip Your Drivers

New York City to Uber: Let People Tip Your Drivers

Either way, that may be coming to an end.

New York City's taxi and black auto regulator plans to require Uber Technologies to add a tipping feature to its app by July.

In its announcement Monday, the TLC said the tipping options would be "platform agnostic" and apply to all so-called for-hire vehicles, which provide prearranged rides and include ride-hail, community livery and black-car services. New York City might be forcing a change in policy, however.

Right now, tipping an Uber driver is one of those weird things.

People who support the rule hope it can make gratuities as common for New York's Uber drivers as they are for the city's taxi drivers. As my colleague Sean O'Kane correctly notes, Uber chose to cap surge pricing during emergencies nationwide in 2014 after NY first forced the ride-hail to adopt the policy. While digital tipping has yet to go mainstream outside of cafes and taxis, American consumers are more likely to touch-type a tip if the staff member is standing (or sitting) expectantly nearby. NY officials are trying to force the ride-sharing app to include a tipping option after a petition was signed by 11,000 drivers. That is as much as $6,000 per driver. The negotiations are still ongoing. Jeff Jones, Uber's former president who resigned recently, had advocated internally for in-app tipping.

A man exits the Uber offices in Queens, New York, U.S., February 2, 2017.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms through the early evening
Showers likely Tuesday night and possibly a thunderstorm before 8 p.m., then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 8 p.m. Showers are likely to begin as early as the mid-morning hours today and will continue on and off throughout the day.

Rival Lyft, which lets customers tip from its app, in March said its drivers earned more than $200 million in tips nationwide since it started the practice in 2012.

It may be time to tip your Uber driver - whether you want to or not.

While the call for strike by taxi drivers was given by the Sarvodaya Drivers' Association (SDA), some autorickshaw unions said they would show solidarity by protesting. Meanwhile, Uber sought to undermine the very notion of tipping. Some of those services are reserved over the phone or by company voucher. Last year, it agreed to give tacit approval for drivers to seek tips as part of a legal settlement-while also distributing academic research arguing that customs surrounding tipping were arbitrary at best and discriminatory at worst.

Now, Uber is weakened, and the company's foes smell blood in the water.

Conigliaro praised the proposed rule as "a vitally important step forward for drivers", citing the lack of protections for drivers such as paid sick leave and minimum wage rules. The ride-hail giant claimed drivers in NY made more than $90,000 a year, but the agency found the median income of drivers there is $29,000 less than that.

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