Uber has permanently closed 40% of its Greenlight hubs. Here’s what this means for drivers.

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In terms of unpleasant surprises, the year 2020 has delivered beyond all imagination. 

Back in March, when the coronavirus nightmare was just beginning, Uber temporarily shut down all its Greenlight Hubs. 

This was reasonable since Greenlight Hubs do involve face-to-face contact, a lot of touching of surfaces, and the possible spread of the coronavirus from driver to Hub worker and back.

This was fine… for awhile.

But now, due to the recent cost-cutting measures, 40% of Uber Greenlight Hubs won’t be back during the reopening process… if they ever come back. On May 7th, Uber announced it would eliminate 3,700 jobs and permanently close 180 of its Greenlight Hubs in an effort to cut costs, and offset the losses the pandemic has brought upon the company.

In an effort to support drivers through this change. We’ll answer the following questions drivers may have in this blog post:

  1. Why are Greenlight Hubs important for drivers?
  2. Why are Greenlight Hubs critical in a COVID-19 world
  3. How many Greenlight Hubs have been closed and which ones have been closed?
  4. How will the closure of Greenlight Hubs affect rideshare drivers
  5. How will 

Why are Greenlight Hubs important for drivers?

Uber first touted the Greenlight Hubs as a personal touch for drivers; an in-person resource for help with onboarding, working with the app, and resolving customer issues. In some places, the hubs even provided free vehicle inspections.

It was convenient, and it felt reassuring, to have Greenlight Hubs in our towns. Here are just a few ways that drivers could use Greenlight Hubs.

Get help with documents

Let’s say you got a new car. Submitting the insurance and registration online could keep you waiting up to a day or two to get back on the road. But when there was a Greenlight Hub, you’d just drive there, present the paperwork to the helpful specialist, grab a new decal for your window, and you’d be good to go in 10 minutes or less.

Get help with navigating the driver app

Or, let’s say you’re not the most tech-savvy person in your neighborhood, and you can’t figure out how to use the app. You might also find that it’s acting up and you can’t get it to work right. The helpful hub attendants would personally walk you through the app’s features, teaching you how to use it and making a determination about whether the problem was the app or something you were doing.

Use the lost and found

The pain surrounding lost articles is less intense when you can simply deliver stray scarves, phones, and keys to the local Greenlight Hub to be picked up by your forgetful riders. Without hubs, drivers waste a lot of time, gas, and aggravation hauling their posterior ends all over town to deliver lost items to customers. (It gets even more aggravating when they don’t tip beyond the paltry fee you get from Uber for doing this good deed.)

We can understand why Uber might want to cut back on Greenlight Hubs, since they carry expenses like rent and salaries. Also, the company does offer some help by email and telephone; but in so many places, the hubs are going to be sorely missed. The pang of missing them might become even stronger as we re-emerge from the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Why are Greenlight Hubs critical in a COVID-19 world

As cities open back up, drivers get back on the road, and Uber lays out new safety guidelines for both riders and drivers, Greenlight Hubs will be a huge benefit for a number of reasons.

Handing out masks and sanitizing products

Greenlight Hubs would have been convenient places to distribute masks and sanitizing products. Instead, the company is mailing masks to us drivers, and as for the sanitizer, we’re on our own. 

As COVID-19 continues to grip the country, more and more drivers are going to need this equipment and being able to swing by and get more equipment could be an important win for drivers.

Handling face mask related disputes

We told you in this article about Uber’s new face mask policies for drivers and passeners. 

All drivers and riders will have to wear masks, all cars will have to be sanitized, and all riders will have to sit in the back seat. We concede that the new policy will help make the reopening process seem safer for riders as well as drivers—as long as it works as planned. But what happens when it doesn’t?

Uber might be relying too heavily on technology to solve the inevitable disputes and controversies that may arise when drivers inform customers they have to comply. As it stands, drivers can cancel trips with maskless riders, or those who try to climb into the front seat. The update to the app includes an option for cancelling for those reasons without penalty.

We can’t help wondering, though … will it always go smoothly? What if your customer’s in a hurry and didn’t bother to bring a mask along? What if you’re the one who gets written up for insisting that your riders follow policy (as well as local government regulations) and keep a safe social distance?

It’ll be interesting to see how quickly and how well Uber’s customer service staff responds to requests for help the app just can’t handle, especially after they’ve been so thoroughly downsized. Already there are incredibly long wait times for person-to-person contact by phone. With fewer workers, wait times will probably get even longer.

Email help usually arrives more quickly, but it’s not terribly satisfying. It can take a lot of  time for drivers to carefully explain the nuances of a less-than-pleasant interaction with just one irate rider. Talking to a real person, or even better, seeing someone face-to-face at a hub, is so much more effective.

How many Greenlight Hubs have been closed and which ones have been closed?

Unfortunately, Uber has not released a list of the Greenlight Hubs that will be cut. However, we know that 40% of the facilities worldwide is a big chunk of the operation.

We’ll keep every driver updated as to which Hubs have been closed and which are still open as Uber releases this information, however, if you have multiple hubs in your city you should expect that one will be closed.

How will closures affect drivers?

The closure of 40% of Greenlight hubs will likely have an impact on most rideshare drivers around the world. Here’s what drivers can expect.

Many drivers will have to travel farther to get to a hub

In many cities like Chicago, NYC, and LA, drivers had multiple Greenlight Hubs that they could visit to get the help they needed. After these closures, there is a great chance that cities with multiple Greenlight Hubs will see 1 or more of their hubs close.

This means some drivers will have to go even farther out of their way to reach a hub.

Expect longer wait times

With less Greenlight Hubs that are located farther away, drivers should expect busier hubs and significantly longer wait times, especially during the first few months they reopen. Each Greenlight Hub will have to do more work, likely with less staff, so the days of being able to pop into a hub, and pop right out may be long gone.

Expect more rushed, and less helpful service

Greenlight Hubs used to be a place where drivers could expect a friendly face and a helping hand (most of the time at least). With staff being spread incredibly thin, expect a more “DMV” like experience with long waits and rushed service.

Don’t expect phone support to be any better

If you thought you could rely on phone support instead of Greenlight Hubs, you might be in for a surprise as well.

As part of Uber’s staff cuts, the company also let go of a significant amount of phone support staff. So Uber’s already legendarily bad driver support via email, in-app message, and phone is likely about to get even slower and even worse.

Drivers will have to find their own safety equipment

If Uber is going to require drivers to wear facemasks, then they need to provide them to their drivers. Without Greenlight hubs, there is no local distribution channel for these important supplies and drivers will need to spend their own money to get them.

Even as Uber mails out face masks and sanitizer, drivers will likely have to find their own equipment as there’s run out.

So, what can rideshare and delivery drivers do?

At Gridwise, we do our best to not just point out problems, but to find solutions.

However, in this case. There just aren’t many great ways to get around a poor Greenlight Hub experience for Uber and Uber Eats drivers.

The best thing that you can do is familiarize yourself with Uber’s online support, and when you do have a question, comment, or concern, try to call before heading to your Greenlight Hub.

Drivers should also expect to need to find their own masks, which we’ve written a great how to guide for obtaining free and cheap masks.

Otherwise, keep watching for more articles from Gridwise, and we’ll keep finding out what plans Uber and all the rideshare and delivery companies have in store for drivers and deliverers. We’ll also do our absolute best to provide answers to the questions that drivers usually rely on Greenlight Hubs for answers to.
If you haven’t already done so, download the Gridwise app and you can be just like Uber—hedging your bets by working the ride AND delivery markets. Our app helps you organize it all … which is why Gridwise is the #1 Assistant for rideshare and delivery driving.

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