Author: Megan Rose Dickey

Lyft says it has more wheelchair accessible vehicles available in NYC

Lyft, which has faced at least one lawsuit pertaining to its alleged discrimination against people with physical abilities, announced today it has expanded its wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) service in New York City. Details on the blog are very scarce (we’ve reached out to Lyft for more info) but Lyft now has more than 20 partners in New York City to help increase WAV access. “With more accessible rides on the road, we’ll be better able to help New Yorkers with physical disabilities get around the city,” Lyft wrote in a blog post. But it’s not clear how many wheelchair accessible vehicles are available now than before. Previously, Lyft had just a five percent success rate for finding wheelchair accessible vehicles for riders, while Uber had a 55 percent success rate, according to a 2018 report from the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. For both of these companies, they were able to find for non-accessible rides 100 percent of the time. The lack of WAVs on Lyft and Uber have resulted in lawsuits for both companies. Last March, Disability Rights Advocates filed a class-action lawsuit against Lyft, alleging the company discriminates against people who use wheelchairs by not making wheelchair-accessible cars available in the San Francisco Bay Area. The case, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, alleges Lyft directly violates the law by not providing an equal and accessible transportation option to all. ...

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Uber’s JUMP bikes are seeing high utilization rates

In the past year, more than 63,000 people took 625,000 rides on JUMP bikes in San Francisco, JUMP announced today. Each JUMP bike in San Francisco saw an average of seven rides per bike day compared to the docked bike industry average of one to two per day. JUMP initially launched 250 bikes at the beginning of the year, followed by an additional 250 more in October. While fewer bikes on the road may correlate with the number of rides per bike per day, JUMP says its utilization rate remained consistent at over eight rides per bike per day post-expansion...

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Optimus Ride deploys more self-driving vehicles

Optimus Ride, an MIT spinoff, is gearing up to deploy its self-driving vehicles within a mixed-use development located in Reston, Virginia. Thanks to a partnership with Brookfield Properties, Optimus Ride will deploy an autonomous vehicle service throughout Halley Rise, a development that features housing, retail, offices and public spaces in June. “We are pleased to announce our partnership with Brookfield, the world’s leading real estate developer,” Optimus Ride CEO Dr. Ryan Chin said in a press release. “We will deploy our self-driving system at Brookfield’s Halley Rise location this summer to provide users with autonomous mobility access between office buildings as we continue to scale our business. In the future, we will advance our partnership by deploying our self-driving systems at additional Brookfield sites around the world.” During phase one of the deployment, just three Optimus Ride autonomous vehicles will in service to transport people within the development. In the greater D.C. area alone, Brookfield owns 40 properties. Given that Brookfield has properties throughout the world, Optimus Ride plans to deploy its autonomous services in additional Brookfield developments. Optimus Ride has previously deployed autonomous driving services near Boston, in an urban development called Union...

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Instacart CEO apologizes for tipping debacle

On the heels of a recently-filed class action lawsuit over wages and tips, as well as drivers and shoppers speaking out about Instacart’s alleged practices of subsidizing wages with tips, Instacart is taking steps to ensure tips are counted separately from what Instacart pays shoppers. In a blog post today, Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said all shoppers will now have a guaranteed higher base compensation, paid by Instacart. Depending on the region, Instacart says it will pay shoppers between $7 to $10 for full-service orders (shopping, picking and delivering) and $5 for delivery-only tasks. The company will also stop including tips in its base pay for shoppers. “After launching our new earnings structure this past October, we noticed that there were small batches where shoppers weren’t earning enough for their time,” Mehta wrote. “To help with this, we instituted a $10 floor on earnings, inclusive of tips, for all batches. This meant that when Instacart’s payment and the customer tip at checkout was below $10, Instacart supplemented the difference. While our intention was to increase the guaranteed payment for small orders, we understand that the inclusion of tips as a part of this guarantee was misguided. We apologize for taking this approach.” For the shoppers who were subject that approach, Instacart says it will retroactively pay people whose tips were included in payment minimums. You can read the full...

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Lime raises $310 million Series D round led by Bain Capital

Lime just announced it has raised a $310 million Series D round. Led by Bain Capital, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Ventures, GV and IVP, the round values Lime at $2.4 billion. “This new investment demonstrates the fundamental strength of our business and the increasingly rapid adoption of Lime,” Lime CEO Toby Sun wrote in a blog post. “The new funds will give us the ability to expand into new markets, enhance our technology, strengthen the team and pilot new opportunities. We will also continue investing in two critical areas: rider safety and city collaboration.” In May, Lime...

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Instacart faces class-action lawsuit regarding wages and tips

Instacart is facing another class-action lawsuit pertaining to the way it pays its independent contractors, NBC News reports. Instacart guarantees its workers at least $10 per job, but workers are alleging Instacart offsets wages with tips from customers. The suit alleges Instacart “intentionally and maliciously misappropriated gratuities in order to pay plaintiff’s wages even though Instacart maintained that 100 percent of customer tips went directly to shoppers. Based on this representation, Instacart knew customers would believe their tips were being given to shoppers in addition to wages, not to supplement wages entirely.” Instacart has had a rocky relationship over the years with its drivers and shoppers. In 2016, Instacart removed the option to tip in favor of guaranteeing higher delivery commissions. About a month later, following pressure from shoppers, the company reintroduced tipping. In 2017, Instacart settled a $4.6 million suit regarding claims that the company misclassified its personal shoppers as independent contractors, and also failed to reimburse them for work expenses. As part of the settlement, Instacart was required to change the way it described a service fee, which many people mistakenly thought meant tip. Then, last April, Instacart began suggesting a 5 percent default tip. In addition to the lawsuit, workers have taken to Reddit and other online forums to speak out against Instacart’s paying practices. Since introducing a new payments structure in October, which includes things like payments per mile,...

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SF also denies JUMP’s electric scooter appeal

A neutral hearing officer in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has denied Uber-owned JUMP’s appeal regarding the SFMTA’s decision to not provide JUMP a permit to operate shared electric scooters in the city. “We are pleased the hearing officer validated our permitting process, which above all, prioritized the public interest,” SFMTA Communications Manager Ben Jose said in a statement to TechCrunch. JUMP argued that the SFTMA did not fairly judge its offering against the likes of Skip and Scoot — the two operators granted permits for shared electric scooter services. But SFMTA Hearing Officer James Doyle has determined...

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Tyra Banks is creating a tech-driven attraction called Modelland

Tyra Banks, the supermodel-turned-entrepreneur, has unveiled her latest venture. Dubbed Modelland, the in-person theme park-like experience will bring technology to the forefront, Banks told TechCrunch over the phone last week. “We’re very open to partnering with and having integrations with different brands that bring technology to the forefront and make sure what we’re providing in Modelland are things you cannot do on your phone,” she told me. The attraction will combine fantasy with interactive entertainment (think some augmented reality and virtual reality), as well as what people have come to expect from theme parks: food, events and shopping. While it’s called...

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