The gig economy might not be all it's cracked up to be. Nevertheless, Uber looks like it's expanding into new potentially lucrative territory: In addition to shuttling customers around, it will soon begin shuttling around their packages, too.
The company will reportedly begin testing "UberRUSH" in New York City on Tuesday, as an option within the existing app. As Vox's Matt Yglesias reports, "[the service] won't buy things for you. It will just pick them up and then drop them off wherever you've directed them to go." Delivery starts at $15, and additional charges will be tacked on depending on how far the messenger has to travel between demarcated NYC "zones," up to 110th Street in Manhattan. The service will be available 24 hours a day, and you can track your parcel's delivery progress in the app.
Now, plenty of New York offices uses bike couriers to quickly deliver packages within the city's confines. But Uber has the existing technical infrastructure to transform something like Manhattan's fragmented parcel biz into something a bit more streamlined—something that non-office workers can use to send stuff, too.
In a blog post, Uber announced that all cyclist would undergo a "stringent background check" and in-person interview. Furthermore, the company is partnering with the Bike Messenger Emergency Fund, "a non profit public charity organization that provides emergency compensation to bicycle messengers who are hurt on the job."
[Image: Flickr user Nicholas Vollmer]