New Yorkers have for years been able to tip a taxi driver by adding a few dollars to their bill before swiping a credit card. But they cannot add a tip when they use the popular ride-hailing app Uber.
Now officials in New York City are moving to require Uber to provide a tipping option in the app.
The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission announced a proposal on Monday requiring car services that accept only credit cards to allow passengers to tip the driver using their card.
“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.
The decision was prompted by a petition from the Independent Drivers Guild, a group representing Uber drivers in New York. The petition, which collected more than 11,000 signatures, argued that drivers were losing thousands of dollars without an easy tipping option. Passengers can tip an Uber driver using cash, but many do not carry cash or know whether they should feel obligated to provide a tip.
The lack of a tipping option in Uber’s app has been a sore point for drivers. If new rules are approved in New York, it would be a major change in how Uber runs its business in its largest United States market. Other cities could demand to have the same choice.
A spokeswoman for Uber, Alix Anfang, said the company would review the proposal.
“Uber is always striving to offer the best earning opportunity for drivers and we are constantly working to improve the driver experience,” Ms. Anfang said in a statement, noting that the company had worked with the drivers guild to make sure drivers had a voice.
The proposal will be formally introduced in the next few months and requires approval by the taxi commission’s board. Drivers and passengers will have a chance to weigh in on the measure at a public hearing before a vote. Under the rules, companies that only accept cash could continue to accept cash tips.
In New York, the use of Uber and other ride-hailing services has soared to about 16 million passengers in October, from about five million in June 2015, according to a recent study. But Uber has recently faced a series of scandals over its corporate culture, including allegations of sexual harassment, leading to a backlash among consumers.
Lyft, a rival ride-hailing service, allows passengers to tip from its app. In March, the company said Lyft drivers had earned more than $200 million in tips nationwide since the company started allowing tips in 2012.
James Conigliaro Jr., the founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, said allowing drivers to earn tips would help them make a decent living after Uber had in recent years reduced driver rates in New York.
“It has become harder for drivers to make a living wage,” he said. “They have to work much harder and longer hours to earn the same amount of money they did when Uber came on the scene.”