NYC Uber drivers could soon start getting tips

The Taxi and Limousine Commission announced a proposal Monday that would require auto services like Uber, which only accept credit or debit card for payment, to add a way for passengers to tip using the card. The group had put forward a petition regarding this very issue and managed to receive well over 11,000 signatures supporting the implementation of an in-app tipping option.

Officials say tipping would also improve transparency for drivers to see how their paychecks are calculated.

The commission opted to push for the change in response to a petition by the Independent Drivers Guild, a union-supported organization that advocates for Uber drivers in NY.

Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend, noting that the report relates to complaints dating back two or three years, said, "We've significantly improved our processes since then".

'It's just not possible to make it on straight UberX rates, ' said Jim Conigliaro, the guild's founder.

Many regular users of app-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber are busy chalking out their travel plans for Tuesday, as the drivers have called for a strike once again. IDG is the only organized group of drivers that meets regularly with Uber management to advocate for drivers. With numbers like that, it is understandable that drivers would want the opportunity to snag a little more money per ride.

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

"This rule proposal will be an important first step to improve earning potential in the for-hire vehicle industry", Joshi said in a statement.

Lyft, Uber's rival ride-sharing app, now has a tipping system and, in March, the company said their drivers made more than $2 million in tips nationwide. For example, it added the ability for riders to offer "compliments" to drivers in November 2016 - a move that was criticized by some, who said "compliments don't pay the bills". Although the company is vaguely okay with cash tipping - how would it even find out? - the app itself has no mechanism for tipping.

Uber is under new pressure in New York City to add in-app tipping. "They actually feel uncomfortable when they get out of the auto and don't tip the driver".

Uber has never shied away from a fight with policymakers, and its sanguine response to the proposed tipping rules points toward a shift in its thinking. 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. "I find myself working longer hours to make up the lost pay".

  • Patricia Jimenez