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Amazon wants an NYC bike messenger to bring you a package within an hour

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Satish Krishnamurthy/Flickr

Bike messengers swarm the streets of New York on a daily basis, and now Amazon's packages may be stowed in their saddlebags. According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is staffing up to test a new delivery service for its products there by bicycle that promises to get orders delivered to buyers within the hour. The Journal says it could be called Amazon Prime Now, and be available in Manhattan to start. Presumably it will also cost more than the company's same-day delivery service, which runs $5.99 per order for Prime members and $8.99 for everyone else.

It might be called "Amazon Prime Now"

Amazon's been on a quest to trim delivery times for orders, including the possibility of using aerial drones to make short haul trips with small packages. However that effort remains years out, and requires advances in both the technology and regulatory approvals. The company has also attempted to add incentives to people who are willing to wait an extra day or two, or pick up packages in lockers placed in other businesses versus their home or office addresses.

But, as the Journal points out, a one-hour service would be the fastest delivery service for Amazon yet, and in an enormous market. It also puts it in fierce contention with the likes of eBay, which launched a delivery service in 2012 that briefly promised one-hour deliveries for a flat $5 fee. The company has since scaled it back to same- and next-day shipping. That kind of time makes some items an impulse purchase, and puts on Amazon on better footing with physical stores where people could venture to get a similar deal.

It's unclear exactly when the service is launching, or if Amazon's planning to extend it beyond Manhattan and into other areas. Amazon is said to be holding time trials with bicycle courier companies before choosing one that will run the orders, suggesting there's still work to be done.

Update December 8th, 5:44PM: A person familiar with Amazon's plans tells The Verge that the company's internal beta test of the service currently runs $5 for a one-hour delivery, while those who can wait two hours or more for a delivery can get it for free, but are encouraged to tip their delivery person. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.