Staying socially distant at the holidays is shaping up to be more logistically difficult than anyone imagined. Not only can we not see all our family and friends the way we want to, but questions arise of how to deliver gifts and meals or how even to borrow a ladder to hang some decorations. Thankfully, just in time for the season of giving, rideshare pioneers Uber have rolled out a new service to hail a car not for you, but for your stuff.
“Throughout this crisis, we’ve been looking for new ways our platform can help move essential goods for businesses and consumers, while providing new earning opportunities for drivers,” says Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. “While things are moving at a rapid pace, we are leaning into delivery at Uber speed, and keeping our eyes on the future.”
Uber Connect, test-launched in April, has just gone live in 2,400 towns and cities across the nation, and lucky for all of us that includes Westchester County. The service functions much as the ride hailing or Uber Eats arms of the app work, with users requesting a car to pick up an item and deliver it to a given address. And the service works both ways: You can send a package or request one be picked up and brought to you.
Drivers can get in touch with recipients (and senders, when a pickup is requested) to ensure contactless delivery, and trip progress can be tracked on the Uber app. Best of all? It’s probably faster and cheaper that traditional shipping services.
Uber Connect will reportedly utilize a fare pricing structure similar to its rideshare and delivery models: a $1.44 base fare, a $3.45 booking fee, and an $8.28 minimum fare. Delivery costs will then vary by time and distance traveled, tolls, etc. All things considered, it’s not a bad deal for same-day local delivery, let alone delivery down to an hour or less.
U.S. Postal Service rates start at $26.35 for overnight Priority Mail Express shipping and increase dramatically by weight. UPS Ground offers next-day service starting around $12, likewise raising rates for both distance and weight, but does offer same-day delivery by request only. FedEx likewise offers same-day delivery, typically within a few hours, also starting at around $12 and — you guessed it — also jacks up the base price by mileage and adds a per-pound surcharge for anything heavier than 50 lbs. If you were hoping to send a cumbersome leaf blower or a homemade pie while it’s still hot, none of these services are particularly ideal.
Will Westchester embrace Uber’s turn at a Postmates-style delivery company? Time will tell, but it’s 2020 and your grandma’s latkes can catch their own Uber. Anything is possible.