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NYC considers requiring Uber, other services to provide tipping option in apps

By Allen Cone
New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission proposed that car services that only take credit cards must offer riders a tipping option on the same card, including Uber. Photo by Mahathir Mohd Yasin/Shutterstock
New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission proposed that car services that only take credit cards must offer riders a tipping option on the same card, including Uber. Photo by Mahathir Mohd Yasin/Shutterstock

April 17 (UPI) -- Uber and other ride-booking services in New York City could be required to offer in-app tipping for their drivers if a proposed city regulation is approved.

On Monday, the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission proposed that car services that only take credit cards must offer riders a tipping option on the same card.

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Riders can tip cash to Uber drivers but don't have the option to add a tip via credit card. Lyft offers a tipping option in its app.

"This rule proposal will be an important first step to improve earning potential in the for-hire vehicle industry, but it is just one piece of a more comprehensive effort to improve the economic well-being of drivers," Meera Joshi, the city's taxi commissioner, said in a statement to The New York Times.

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The taxi commission's board will study the proposal over the next few months.

The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents Uber drivers in New York and part of the Machinists Union, collected more than 11,000 signatures in a petition.

"Uber has been stubbornly unwilling to give our riders an easy option to tip," the petition said. "As a result, New York's working drivers are losing thousands of dollars we need for vehicle upkeep and supporting our families in one of the most expensive cities in America. Uber makes the problem worse by misleading riders by telling them that 'tips are not expected.' "

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Uber, in a statement, said it had not seen the the proposal but wants to help drivers.

"Uber is always striving to offer the best earning opportunity for drivers and we are constantly working to improve the driver experience," Alix Anfang, a spokeswoman for Uber, said in a statement to The New York Times.

In a blog by its policy team last year, Uber said it considered building a tipping option into the app but ultimately decided against it "because we felt it would be better for riders and drivers to know for sure what they would pay or earn on each trip -- without the uncertainty of tipping."

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Ridership on Uber and other ride-hailing services was about 16 million passengers as yellow cab trips declined, according to a study.

Last week, privately held Uber reported in 2016 had $20 billion in bookings -- double its 2015 number -- with net revenue of $6.5 billion but the company lost $2.8 billion.

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