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6 min read

    6 min read

    In certain markets, Uber and Lyft have been making changes from driver pay to how surge pricing is shown to drivers. If you’re in one of those markets, you may have noticed the changes. If not, the changes may be rolling out soon to you! Today, senior RSG contributor Christian Perea gives us an update on all the changes Uber and Lyft are making.

    There have been a slew of updates and tests from Uber and Lyft over the last several weeks ranging from a pay raise for some drivers to new Prime Time. Some of these updates are live in only a few markets, but it’s a good bet that some of them will be rolled out soon to a market near you.

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    Below, I’ll share a roundup all of the biggest updates over the last several weeks.

    Lyft Plans to Reveal More Payment Info to Drivers

    Lyft is testing a new earnings screen that will allow drivers to view the full information of who-got-what in each fare. This will be similar to how Uber displays the “full deal” in each fare and will allow for drivers to see how much Lyft took (or lost) on each ride:

    Example of Lyft’s new earnings screen

    This is still being tested by Lyft now in a few cities, but it seems like they plan to roll out a version of it to all drivers in the US over the coming week/months.

    My Take: I’m happy that Lyft is finally going to show us the full picture of each fare. I’ve been calling on them to do this for over a year. To Uber’s credit, they’ve been showing this to us for almost a year now – even though it often makes them look bad when they take a large portion of the fare.

    Lyft hasn’t been doing this and, as a result, the vast majority of the criticism on upfront pricing and driver commission creep has gone towards Uber. Even though Lyft is doing the same exact thing, it would be nice if either company told us what their effective commission is. For now, we’ll have to calculate it ourselves.

    Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming article from us on how much Lyft is taking from fares. Coming soon!

    Read: How Much Is Uber Really Taking From Upfront Pricing?

    Uber Raises Rates 5% to 10% and Increases Their Booking Fee (Lyft Follows Suit)

    On Friday, 4/20, I got a nice little surprise (not that kind) from Uber announcing they were raising driver pay rates. This is always welcome news, and one of the best parts of Uber raising rates is that Lyft will quickly match them.

    Uber raised rates 5% – 10% in a total of 11 cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County (CA), Boston, Vermont, Worcester (MA), Oxford (MS), Fairbanks (AK), and Western Colorado.

    Uber also raised their booking fee in dozens of cities (most of which did not get an increase in driver pay). The booking fee went up from an additional $0.15 to $0.50, further increasing “commission creep” a little more in Uber’s favor.

    My Take: It’s still not enough but hey, I’ll take any good news on rates that I can get. Gas has gone up about a dollar a gallon since Uber last lowered fares, so maybe this will take the sting off a little bit.

    This isn’t a magical reversal from Uber. Most markets still saw their pay remain the same with Uber ultimately collecting more in “booking fees”.

    Lyft is Copying Uber’s New Surge Pricing

    Lyft has been quietly testing a new version of Prime Time that closely emulates what Uber has been testing in Charlotte over the last six months. The new version of Prime Time basically works by guaranteeing an amount of extra pay if a driver manages to drive into a Prime Time area. If you want to know how it works, just read this article and replace the words “Uber” with “Lyft’ and “Surge” with “Prime Time”.

    Hope they like minimum fares 😉

    My Take: This is probably going to roll out on both networks soon. I hate this model because it just makes it so Uber and Lyft can capture the big upside in long rides. When this rolls out, we will all want to avoid long distance trips during surge like the plague and instead focus on short trips that maximize our ability to keep dipping in the surge zone. I’m sure Uber and Lyft are excited they can finally start collecting 80% of some of these surge fares.

    Some would argue that this new method is “better” because it guarantees a surge ride once you get into the zone. I disagree though because most surge “events” come fast and leave just as quickly. This new setup makes the “worse case scenario” a little better by guaranteeing such a fare, but it completely eliminates the huge upside.

    For example, the fare below allowed Uber to collect a fat 81% of the fare:

    Image provided courtesy of Rideshare America on Twitter

    Uber: Skip the Queue After a Short Airport Trip

    All right,, let’s end on some good news!

    This update from Uber allows drivers who stake out the airport to cut back to the front of the line in the event that they get a short trip from the airport. If the trip is available for “short trip protection” Uber will display this image in the request screen:

    If you take this rider on a short trip, then you’ll be able to go back into the airport que and jump to the front of the line for a fare that is hopefully longer and worth your original wait in the que. Pretty nifty.

    My Take: Definitely a welcome improvement to the airport experience although to be honest I don’t spend much time at airports. One of the reasons I never did though was because I didn’t want to wait 2 hours and get a minimum fare. This makes me feel more comfortable in doing so, and I think I might head over to the airport sometime soon to test it out.

    More To Come

    In addition to everything above, Uber is testing their new driver app and slowly rolling it out to different markets in the US. You can expect to see it soon. So far, reports from drivers indicate that it has some kinks. It’s running slow on some devices and the biggest complaint I’ve heard so far is that the new surge interface doesn’t tell you what the surge multiplier is.

    We’ll keep you updated on any noise we gather from future product tests on drivers as we find out about them!

    Drivers, have you experienced any of these new changes on either Uber or Lyft? Share some screenshots with your comments below!

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    -Christian @ RSG

    Christian Perea

    Christian Perea

    In 2014, Christian left his job at a mental health center to drive full time for Lyft and Uber. Since then, he has driven for mostly Lyft with a little bit of Sidecar and Postmates thrown in for experimentation and Uber when he doesn't feel like talking to people. He likes to talk about Politics and Economics over a good beer to whoever will listen to him.

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