More than 3,000 Uber and Lyft vehicles will soon have video-ad screens installed that can’t be shut off and only be partially muted, according to the New York Post.
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The ad company Vugo has contracts with approximately 3,500 New York City black car drivers to put the screens, according to founder James Bellefeuille. They are expected to be installed and operational within weeks. Bellefeuille is also searching for more drivers.
Right now, riders won’t be able to turn off the monitors. They will only be able to, “near dark and mute” them, according to Bellefeuille.
“We may add an off button in the future, depending on how users respond,” he added.
New York City will join Saudi Arabia, Singapore and a town in Mexico as the only cities that use these screens.
Both Uber and Lyft drivers have noted their incomes have decreased recently. With the video ad screens, the will earn approximately $100 to $200 per month, the opportunity for those figures to increase, according to Bellefeuille.
The Taxi & Limousine Commission had outlawed for-hire cars from installing such screens in 2011. Vugo sued in 2015 however and a federal court judged ruled in this past February that the Commission could not bar the technology from the vehicles.
City offices stated they are examining the court decisions, while Uber declined to comment. Meanwhile, customers have started to express their opinion.
“I just want to get in and decompress. I want the option to shut it off, “ Sabrina Tahir, 25, told The Post. “It gives me a headache and motion sickness to watch TV when I am in a car.”
Other riders don’t think it’s fair to be forced to watch the videos.
“Uber and Lyft are more like your personal driver and you are adding advertising to it,” Danielle Lee told the paper. “It’s like being forced upon something which defeats one’s choice of choosing Uber or Lyft. I don’t think it will complement their service.”
Driver advocates have expressed skepticism, as they don’t believe this technology will provide drivers with enough money to compensate for what they are losing.
“In the grand scheme of things, it’s not going to solve the problems of drivers being underpaid,” Moira Muntz, spokeswoman for the Independent Drivers Guild told The Post.
On a positive note, driver Mike Alvela signed up to put a screen his vehicle and believes it will make his ride more classy.
“It gives riders something to play with and it looks trendy,” he said. “I hope it will help me get more five-star ratings.”
Bellefeuille has stated the Uber ad screens will not be a bothersome as Taxi TV which is in all yellow cabs. Uber and Lyft passengers will be able to curate the content on the Vugo screens and choose channels that have music, stand-up comedy and sports as options.
“It’s all going to be relevant to the passengers,” Bellefeuille told The Post. “It won’t be the same Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon clip on repeat.”
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