92% of surveyed driver partners laud Council’s impact: Uber
Bangalore, 13th April 2023: India’s first Driver Advisory Council (DAC), formed to provide gig workers a safe space to discuss issues that impact them deeply and improve their platform experience, has completed a year. The Council is a flagship initiative led by Aapti Institute, a Bengaluru-based think tank, that serves as a third-party Independent Review Board (IRB), in collaboration with Uber, with an aim to create better two-way dialogue between driver partners and the platform.
Today, Uber along with the Aapti Institute announced the second cohort of driver partners across cars, auto-rickshaws and motorbikes, who will be part of the Council for a year. These drivers are from 6 metros including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai, and represent the interests of tens of thousands of driver partners using the Uber platform. Last year, the Council comprised 58 driver partners who were part of 3 in-person sessions and two online sessions, convened by Aapti between March 2022 and March 2023. Critical topics discussed during these meetings included earnings, product enhancements, social security, app experience, and safety, among others.
Based on these sessions, and recommendations from Aapti Institute, Uber implemented several changes last year. As per an internal survey of 80,000 driver partners by Uber, 85% of the respondents believed that the changes had a positive impact on their driving experience and 92% drivers wanted DAC to continue.
L-R: Shiva Shailendran, Director – Operations, Uber India, and South Asia; Shri Rahul Bhagat, Director, Social Security Division, Ministry of Labour and Employment, GOI ; Dr. Sarayu Natarajan, Founder, Aapti Institute
Aapti Institute unveiled an impact report on the learnings from the Council meetings in its inaugural year. The report highlights key changes introduced by Uber as per the IRB’s recommendations:
Reduction in driver cancellations: The Council meetings helped better understand the issues faced by driver partners that led them to cancel rides. Subsequently, Uber made the drop-off destination and mode of payment known upfront to driver partners prior to their acceptance of the trip requests. These changes helped driver partners make an informed decision and reduced trip cancellations significantly.
Transparency in driver earnings: The Council meetings helped get an insight into reasons behind some driver partners demanding extra money or refusing online payments. Fuel prices had gone up and driver partners’ earnings were impacted. Online payments were transferred to the driver partners’ accounts after almost a week. To address these issues, Uber increased fares by 12-15% in major cities to offset the fuel price increases. Uber also introduced a Daily Pay process which meant that driver partners received payments made online the following day from Monday to Thursday and on Monday for payments made from Friday to Sunday.
Easier app-experience for driver partners: Driver partners also highlighted bugs or missing features on the Uber app such as the lack of a convenient login interface. Uber now provides a phone button on the homepage added to the driver-partner’s Uber app to call for support and displays the customer’s chosen payment method for a trip.
Commenting on the occasion, Shiva Shailendran, Director – Operations, Uber India, and South Asia, said, “The Driver Advisory Council was our sincere attempt to give gig workers a much deserved seat at the table. Over the last one year, we have deepened our engagement with driver partners and now have a better understanding of issues they face. We will continue strengthening the Council further and stay committed to providing an open, accessible, and rewarding platform for driver partners to make sustainable earnings. This is an ongoing process and the changes that happen may be big or small, but will impact driver partners positively.”
Sharing her views on the one-year milestone, Dr. Sarayu Natarajan, Founder, Aapti Institute, said, “The Driver Advisory Council (DAC) represents a unique, first-of-its kind effort in India’s platform gig economy that promotes participatory governance. Gig workers’ participation in an independent third-party mediated forum introduces a robust and resilient alternative framework for governance of platform work. Such an approach can unlock agency for the driver community by giving a seat at the table, for companies by involving gig workers, and for the society at large. Participative dialogue can help generate insight on issues faced by drivers, to enable potential positive changes to regulations, as well as Uber’s policies and products.”
Driver partners that form a part of the Council are active driver partners on the Uber platform who nominate themselves after meeting certain eligibility parameters. Finally, through meetings with the IRB, the driver partners are tested on their potential to contribute to solutions to prevailing challenges. These driver partners represent their community for a year, after which the selection process is repeated. A new cohort of driver partners will be part of the Council starting this month.
Sharing his views on his experience with the Driver Advisory Council, Sarathi Datta, a driver partner from Kolkata with over 11000 trips spread over 4 years, shared his views: “Our sessions with the Council have led to significant changes over the last few months. It must continue as the forum has tremendous potential to bring about a positive impact for gig workers on the platform, and help them feel like they are being engaged with. In coming years, the Council can be made even better with regular feedback on the impact of changes and meetings every two-weeks.”
The Driver Advisory Council is a global best practice for Uber with similar models in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Uber continues to stay committed to supporting the rights of gig workers using the Uber platform.