Amazon launched its Prime Now one-hour delivery in New York City a few months ago. Prime Now has been successful enough that Amazon expanded the program to additional cities, but NYC’s famously bad traffic makes delivery within the city a bit more complicated. So Amazon couriers do what most New Yorkers do to avoid surface traffic: jump on the subway.
Prime Now, a service available only to Amazon Prime members, promises to deliver certain items in under an hour, for an additional $8 delivery charge. Most one-hour deliveries in the NYC borough of Manhattan are now being made by Amazon delivery staff hauling packages strapped to pushcarts onto the subway, sources told the Financial Times. In a statement to the Financial Times, an Amazon spokesperson somewhat confirmed that delivery people are using the subway: “In Manhattan, our folks bike, walk, or use public transportation. They only drive if the item is large like a flat-screen TV.”
Same-day and especially same-hour delivery are tougher for Amazon to crack in large cities, since its delivery infrastructure is built around driving to and from large distribution centers. As Amazon figures out its own city solutions, a German startup is getting local businesses to band together for same-day local delivery by bike. American startup Deliv likewise is challenging Amazon by contacting retailers directly for singular deliveries, instead of attempting to rival Amazon’s massive distribution-center model.