The Drivers Cooperative
|New York City|
|Ken Lewis, David Alexis, Erik Forman, Alissa Orlando, Mohammad Hossen|
The Drivers Cooperative or Co-Op Ride is an American ridesharing company and mobile app that is a workers cooperative, owned collectively by the drivers. The cooperative launched in May 2020 in New York City, with the first 2,500 drivers issued their ownership certificates in a media event.
The cooperative was co-founded by Grenadan immigrant and for hire vehicle driver Ken Lewis, labor organizer Erik Forman, and former Uber executive Alissa Orlando. Mohammad Hossen is the first member of the drivers' advisory board, which they plan to expand democratically as more drivers are onboarded. Other staff include software and industry veterans and in addition to co-founder Lewis, there are other drivers in management roles such as ex-driver and organizer David Alexis.
The Co-Op Ride app is on the iOS and Android platforms and is built on Google Maps, Stripe, and Waze. By July, the app had been downloaded by 30,000 users and the number of drivers increased to 3,400, and by August there were 40,000 users.
The cooperative is owned by the drivers themselves, and takes 15% from each ride for business overhead costs, as opposed to the 25% to 40% ride hail apps like Uber or Lyft take per ride. While being ultimately owned by the driver members, not by investors, the cooperative began with seed money from the Minnesota-based Community Development Financial Institution Shared Capital Cooperative, the local Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union, and welcomed individual donations via crowdfunding in the form of revenue sharing debt on Wefunder. Each driver is a member of the cooperative and owns one share of the company and one vote in business and leadership decisions. In addition to a larger percentage of the fees per ride driven, each driver as a part-owner will also receive a share of the company's profits after loans and other expenses are paid, in the form of weighted dividends. The drivers use their own cars.
The cooperative vets its owner-members further than what is already performed by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), and gives a fixed price when a car is ordered and does not engage in surge pricing. The TLC imposed a minimum payrate for mobile app ridesharing companies operating in New York city in 2018. In 2021 that is $1.26 per mile which Uber and Lyft do not pay above; the cooperative pays a minimum mileage of $1.64. The cooperative intends to be able to set aside 10% of profits to community foundations and other non-profits and community organizations.
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