NYC, USA – More than 11,000 New York City taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers have become city-employed food delivery workers amid the coroanvirus pandemic.
The drivers, paid $15 per hour, are tasked with bringing free meals to elderly and health-compromised New Yorkers unable to leave their homes.
The meals are loaded into drivers’ trunks at distribution centers across the five boroughs, and are dropped off at the doors of needy residents — all while maintaining social distance.
“I used to drive Uber, but since the pandemic started I stopped because I don’t want to bring that home to my family,” said Fritz Joseph, 58, who started delivering meals for the city on March 29.
“Seeing those people smiling at me and taking the food while they cannot go outside themselves is very fulfilling for me,” Joseph said.
Joseph said he makes deliveries five to six hours a day, which is less than he worked while driving for Uber. “These deliveries are my only income right now,” he said.
Drivers do not need to own a car or cab licensed by the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission to make the deliveries — but they must be licensed by the commission in order to get the gig.
Mayor de Blasio on Wednesday announced a $170 million program to provide meals to New Yorkers who are out of work due to the pandemic — and said he plans to recruit more drivers to deliver food.
Besides helping get food to people who can’t leave their homes, de Blasio said the program will help the suffering taxi and for-hire vehicle business. Ridership of for-hire vehicles and yellow cabs has dropped more than 85% in the pandemic.
“They’re getting money back in their pockets, to feed their families in turn,” said de Blasio. “This is something that’s going to have a huge positive effect on the people doing the work, but even more if they’re doing something absolutely crucial to help the most vulnerable amongst us.”
Uber has also moved in recent weeks to provide some relief to vulnerable New Yorkers, including donating $1 million worth of meals to first responders and health care workers.
– Source: Clayton Guse – New York Daily News