Uber Freight is giving weekly $20 Eats credits to truck drivers on its platform because their food options are suddenly disappearing

Coronavirus is presenting new challenges for truck drivers.
Coronavirus is presenting new challenges for truck drivers.

Courtesy of Uber Freight

  • Uber Freight head Lior Ron said on Monday that the ride-hailing giant’s truck-brokerage platform was taking steps to ensure the well-being of truck drivers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • One step will be giving drivers on its platform a $20 Uber Eats credit each week — though that won’t likely be enough to account for closures of restaurants or fast food locales nationwide. 

  • The platform will also not take a profit from relief loads for food, water, or medical supplies booked on its app.

  • Ron wrote that Uber Freight will also provide thousands of sanitation kits to small carriers.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

America’s 1.8 million truck drivers are watching the spread of the novel coronavirus make their jobs more and more complicated — including signing forms at warehouses pledging they’re symptom-free, a dearth of nighttime parking, and fewer food options as more restaurants shutter to comply with social distancing.

Their jobs, though, are becoming more critical than ever as the coronavirus pandemic has seen “panic buying” envelop the nation. Some 70% of the nation’s freight is moved by truck, meaning truck drivers are ensuring that retailers, hospitals, and online stores are stocked with the essentials Americans are increasingly buying up.

As truckers become more indispensable, Uber Freight, the truck-brokerage arm of the ride-hailing giant, rolled out several initiatives on Monday aimed at making their jobs easier. Uber Freight head Lior Ron detailed the initiatives in a blog on Monday afternoon.

One move for Uber Freight is to provide truck drivers on its platform with a $20 Uber Eats credit once a week.

“With increasing regional lockdowns and fewer restaurant options available, we’ve heard from our driver community that accessing food while on the road is growing increasingly difficult,” Ron wrote.

Still, that amount won’t likely be enough to provide a meaningful buffer for the closures of dine-in restaurants nationwide. As rest stops and other mainstays for truck drivers to eat and refill on water shutter, dozens of truck drivers have contacted Business Insider saying that they are having challenges finding places that will cater to them.

Courtesy of Uber Freight
Courtesy of Uber Freight

Courtesy of Uber Freight

As the restaurants that offer truck parking shutter, even fast-food locales have shut down their stores and are instead offering drive-thru only. For a person in an 80,000 pound 18-wheeler, drive-thrus aren’t an option — and some have failed to just walk through the drive-thru. 

Then, there’s the price of getting pick-up or delivery from Uber Eats, which tends to charge more than just buying the same food from a restaurant. A New York Times report showed that a $13.21 order from Subway in New York City costs $25.25 on the app, including delivery, service, and “miscellaneous” fees, translating to a 91% markup.

Melissa Phariss, a truck driver based in Oregon, told Business Insider that regularly using delivery apps as traditional options vanish would be too expensive for her. On Uber Eats, she found that the cheapest filling meal she could find — a double hamburger with no sides or drink — was still $15.

Some truck drivers cook in their trucks, but, like all Americans, drivers are struggling to find well-stocked stores.

“I am home maybe every two to three months,” Phariss said. “I restock my food supply weekly, but supplies are scarce at stores where I can park my truck.”

More than 50,000 trucking companies use Uber Freight, many of which employ fewer than a dozen drivers. Uber Freight said in its Monday blog that nearly 4,000 loads of water, food, and medicine have been delivered in the past 10 days.

Ron wrote that Uber Freight will not take a profit from relief loads for food, water, or medical supplies booked on its app. The company will also provide thousands of sanitation kits to small carriers.

“The freight industry is the lifeblood of the economy,” Ron wrote. “That has never been more apparent than in today’s uncertain environment. While the world increasingly turns toward sheltering in place and remote work, demand for essential goods has grown steeply, directly impacting the shippers and carriers who are on the frontlines of producing and delivering these goods.”

Do you work in the trucking industry? Email rpremack@businessinsider.com with your story on how coronavirus is changing your work.

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