Gig bits: Rideshare app that hires drivers shows slow growth, McDonald’s, delivery apps and more.

“Our drivers are employees – not contractors – which benefits them and you,” reads the front page of ride-sharing startup Alto’s website. The Dallas-based company, which calls itself “the world’s first ride-hailing company,” began providing services in Silicon Valley in March, then expanded its reach to San Francisco. While many drivers are voicing their displeasure with Uber and Lyft, some believe Alto’s new business model could be an answer, but it needs riders.

Founded in 2018, the startup has raised around $60 million, but recently that promising facade has started to show cracks. Some users complained that the app was not working properly, which made it difficult to expand the user base. According to a two-star review: “This should be great service as the drivers are awesome and the cars are spotless. However, the app is so bad that the service is unreliable and I can’t use Alto anymore.

This lack of users has resulted in a lack of interest from drivers. According to the Wall Street Journal, as recently as July, Alto had simply 2,000 trips nationwide per day although it operates in seven cities.

Nicole Moore, a labor activist in Los Angeles, said fair pay and free gas are appealing: “But then you have to have enough passengers to create income for people.”

Some drivers seem unimpressed with Alto’s fixed pay of $20 an hour or less. “It’s not high enough. His good reviews are of no use to me,” said a driver in a popular WeChat discussion group. Of the 500 drivers in the group, only a few had heard of Alto, but many repeated that this salary was simply not enough.

Still, curiosity about Alto persists, and it remains a ridesharing app to watch in 2022.

Order fast food with food delivery apps?

Yes, many restaurants order fast food for delivery.

Julian, manager of McDonald’s at 24e and Mission Street, said about 180 of its restaurant’s 800 daily orders, or about 20%, come from delivery apps, including 70 each from DoorDash and Uber Eats, and about 40 from Grubhubs. Most orders arrive between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., with portions that appear to be for families or even entire parties. A recent order – 200 nuggets.

Small orders, Julian said, are likely to be canceled by customers a moment after they are placed. Delivery people have the right to refuse orders they don’t like, and as profit margins continue to be squeezed by soaring gas prices, many are forced to simply accept larger orders while small orders go unanswered.

Soon the young or old behind the counter at McDonald’s might be earning more than the drivers. California now has legislation that could drive up wages up to $22 an hour, reports the Washington Post.

Veteran Lyft Driver Describes What App “Flexibility” and “Choice” Really Look Like

In 2017, Mike Robinson joined Lyft in Southern California as a full-time driver. He was optimistic about the freedom app’s promise to work when and for as long as he wanted.

This rosy vision has been shattered by reality. Robinson, member of the defense group Mobile Workers Alliancerecently laid bare his experience in an article for Fortune Magazine. The article clearly states that he was forced to work 50 hours a week just to survive. The “independence” of being able to choose his own hours of work soon led him to weigh each hour of rest against his loss of income – all this when he was only one accident or illness away from go bankrupt.

Passengers can now text security guards live on Uber

As Uber’s newest tool for security issues, the ride-sharing company now allows users to contact a security guard while on a trip. In July, Uber was sued by more than 500 women who said they had been sexually harassed by drivers.

Uber says the new feature is intended to help passengers and drivers in circumstances that might not require calling the police or other emergency services. Passengers who feel they need the service will be connected with an agent from the security services company ADT who can monitor their itinerary during the trip.

Uber’s main rival, Lyft, which has also been involved in sexual harassment court caselaunched a similar feature in conjunction with ADT in early 2020. According CNN Business, the update is part of a broader security upgrade unveiled last Tuesday, introducing a revamped “toolkit” to simplify access to security features. These include a ‘trusted contacts’ feature to share trip details with friends and a ‘pin code’ feature which requires passengers to verbally tell drivers a four-digit code before starting the journey. Uber has also expanded the range of its “text to 911” feature, which now covers about 60% of the United States, including California.

Lance B. Holton