New York City has taken the first steps to require Uber to add a tipping feature to its app.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission announced a proposal Monday that would require car services like Uber, which only accept credit or debit card for payment, to add a way for passengers to tip using the card.
The TLC will propose the rule by July, then there will be a public hearing before the taxi’s commission board votes on the proposal. However, if the proposal does become a new rule, and Uber is required to add the feature, there is the chance other cities might demand the same tipping option from Uber.
The ride-hailing service Lyft also operates in New York City, but it wouldn’t be affected if the proposal was approved because it already offers a tipping feature within its app.
Uber has said that the reason it doesn’t allow tipping is because tips could create a bias among riders and drivers and could also lead to drivers spending most of their time in wealthier neighbourhoods where the fare is likely to be higher.
In a statement, Uber said they have not yet seen the proposal, but look forward to reviewing it.
“Uber is always striving to offer the best earning opportunity for drivers and we are constantly working to improve the driver experience. That’s why, in New York City, we partnered with the Machinists Union to make sure current and future Uber NYC drivers have a stronger voice and launched a series of new tools and support policies for drivers,” Uber said.
The push to add the tipping option in New York City stemmed from a petition that was organised by the Independent Drivers Guild. The petition, which aims to force Uber to add a tipping feature, received more than 11,000 supporters.
The Guild said in a press statement that a tipping feature would mean an extra $US300 million per year for New York City drivers.
“Drivers have long been denied access to the kinds of benefits and labour protections many workers take for granted, such as paid sick leave or the minimum wage. As a result, New York City’s professional drivers have traditionally depended on gratuities for a substantial portion of their income. Cuts to driver pay across the ride-hail industry has made tipping income more important than ever,” said IDG founder Jim Conigliaro, in a press statement.
“The exploitation of ride-hail drivers must end and this is an important first step.”