There was a raft of rideshare news this week. Here's a quick breakdown.
Following the success of the brief San Francisco event and the Sydney trials, Uber is testing on-demand water taxis in Boston Harbor. The company has forged a partnership with Boston Harbor Cruises, which purchased water taxi brand City Water Taxi only a few weeks ago.
UberBOAT shows up to any Uber user within 1/4 mile of the water to order a taxi via the Uber app. Just like with ground vehicles, the GPS functionality allows for position tracking of the incoming boats.
The limited run boatshare test goes from June 4 through June 15, and features very reasonable pricing: $10 per person one-way, plus a 20% gratuity and a $1 booking fee.
This is a novel addition to the service, which continues to emphasize a brand focused on logistics beyond simply digital hailing for taxis.
Lyft and Uber threatened in Virginia
Both Uber and Lyft have been served with cease-and-desist letters by Virginia DMV commissioner Richard Holcomb. The commissioner had previously issued civil penalties ($26k to Uber and $9k to Lyft) in April for operating without permits, and has taken this chance to reiterate non-compliance with state transportation laws.
The opening paragraph to the letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick:
For over 6 months, the Virginia DMV has alerted Uber Technologies Inc of its requirement to obtain authority before operating in Virginia. DMV has educated Uber about Virginia's passenger carrier laws, which apply to any business that receives compensation to provide and facilitate transportation....I am once again making clear that Uber must cease and desist operating in Virginia until it obtains proper authority.
Holcomb goes on to state that Uber violates the state's ridesharing laws, which prohibit profiting from shared transportation, and suggest that Uber contribute to the ongoing dialogue about updating the laws by focusing "its resources on participation in this study rather than continue illegal operations in the meantime."
Lyft beats out Uber for competitive loyalty program
As Uber pushes further into Lyft's territory with its UberX rideshare product, the competition for driver loyalty has intensified. One of the means to attract - and keep - drivers, is to partner with other companies to offer loyalty bonuses to drivers. Lyft just won over the contract with AnyPerk to deliver that company's curated discounts to Lyft employees. Lyft, in a savvy move, reportedly negotiated exclusivity in the travel vertical.
This is a pretty big deal, as recruiting quality, dedicated drivers is essential to the long-term success of the competing companies in the rideshare space. By freezing out competitors from one of the larger employee perk providers, Lyft has a leg up in the ongoing battle for talent. Every win counts, especially as it becomes clear that Uber and Lyft are the two primary dominant players in the space - and this is a big win for Lyft.
This is also not the first time that Lyft has directly attacked Uber on the talent front: the company recently parked a mobile billboard outside of Uber's driver office to directly address that constituency.
Of course, Lyft's placement was in response to Uber's ongoing recruitment efforts targeted towards Lyft, which encouraged drivers to "shave the 'stache" and make more money with Uber.
The talent battle is only heating up, as any success with regulators means increased demand for rides - and thus more drivers all around.
NB:Car image courtesy Shutterstock.