It was a rude awakening. One of his first shifts involved driving some 50 kilometres around the north-east of England, including through a toll system, dropping off packages as he went. “By the time you are taking off the £1.70 toll charge and also the fuel for that vast route, it makes your hourly rate terrible,” says Wright. He was driving great distances, criss-crossing the region, yet earning less than he had from the comfort of his living room.
The woes of workers in the gig economy have long been making headlines. What is rarely considered is the problems that deliveries create for the environment and life in cities. Vans aren’t just carrying packages and stressed drivers, they are also belching out air pollution and clogging up streets – and that affects us all.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If we are smart, we can make deliveries less painful for people like Wright and less polluting for us all. Making more deliveries on bikes or even by delivery robots could help. Some people want to go even further and completely reinvent the way we do home delivery.