Delhi, 14th September 2023: India’s first Driver Advisory Council (DAC), formed as a pioneering effort to provide gig workers a platform to discuss important issues and improve their platform experience, has expanded to 9 cities. 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. It represents the interests of tens of thousands of driver partners across cars, auto-rickshaws, and motorbikes, and facilitates a better two-way dialogue between them and the platform. The new Council will have representation from 3 new cities – Jaipur, Guwahati and Kochi, in addition to the existing 6 including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. The number of DAC Council members this year will be 45.
At an event held in Central Delhi, DAC members interacted with Uber’s global visiting executive, Andrew Byrne, Vice President and Global Head of Public Policy at Uber, and shared details on their experience. Dr. Sarayu Natarajan, Founder, Aapti Institute, facilitated a discussion ‘Shaping Platform – Worker Dialogue in the Gig Economy’, with Dr. Dhanya MB, Fellow, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute; Marico Ouchi, Senior Technical Specialist on Social Protection, International Labour Organization; Mike Orgill, Senior Director, Public Policy & Government Relations, Uber for the APAC region; and, Aishwarya Raman, Executive Director, OMI Foundation.
Uber introduced several changes over the last year as per recommendations from DAC members. To further enhance transparency and ease of use for driver partners on the platform, Uber has implemented the following changes this year:
Addressing working capital issues: To make the choice of cash vs. online redundant, we had introduced a daily payment settlement process ‘Daily Pay’ which helped drivers ‘cash out’ on their online earnings the next day from Monday to Thursday, and on Monday for Friday to Sunday. Based on feedback from DAC members, Uber has now advanced the payment disbursement time to the morning which helps drivers use that money for refueling etc. We also provide cash-free parking facilities at 9 airports (Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Guwahati) around India to ensure a smooth ride for Uber drivers.
More transparency for driver partners: To empower the driver with more information before the beginning of a trip, Uber had introduced features like upfront destination and payment mode on the booking screen last year. This reduced friction between drivers and riders. Now, the experience has been enhanced further with the visibility of estimated fare that they will earn before accepting a trip. Also, after the trip, the electronic receipt of the trip that the drivers receive in-app will have clear demarcation of the money earned by them, and the money deducted as Uber commission and other outflows such as government taxes, airport parking fee, etc.
More choice to choose trips: To give drivers more options to choose a trip that works best for them, we’re running a pilot on a feature called ‘Extra Choice’. This will enable a driver partner to select from a larger number of available trip offers in the area. This will address feedback from DAC members about having more choice and increase trip acceptance rates on driver sides, which in turn, will reduce trip search time for riders.
Commenting on the occasion, Shiva Shailendran, Director – Operations, Uber India, and South Asia, said, “Drivers have played a pivotal role over the last 10 years in our journey in India and we remain committed to doing what’s best for them. The Driver Advisory Council is our effort to provide drivers a platform to share feedback on what matters most to them. Since March last year, we feel our engagement has deepened and we’ve been able to make changes that have received a thumbs up from drivers. We will continue to provide an open, accessible, and rewarding platform for driver partners and take steps that improve their overall experience with Uber.”
Sharing her views on DAC’s journey so far, Dr. Sarayu Natarajan, Founder, Aapti Institute, said, “As the gig economy continues to grow, the gig worker and platform relationship is also evolving. The Driver Advisory Council is India’s first independent third-party mediated forum that promotes participatory governance. The enthusiasm, participation, and intent of DAC members to drive positive change has been inspiring. We believe that this can serve as a model for the larger gig economy, and participative dialogue can pave the way for shaping gig work regulations, as well as policies of platforms such as Uber.”
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.
Since its inception in March 2022, the Council has been part of 3 in-person sessions and two online sessions. Critical topics discussed during these meetings included earnings, product enhancements, social security, app experience, and safety, among others. 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.