How could Uber and Lyft improve the driver experience in 2023? Every year, we like to ask drivers how they would improve the driver experience if they got to be Uber and Lyft execs for a day. Below, contributor-at-large Jay Cradeur shares his perspective on what Uber and Lyft could do, plus what you have to say about Uber and Lyft in 2023.
I have been a rideshare driver for seven years and have given over 28,000 trips. Since August of this year, I have been driving part-time on weekends in Sacramento. My experience here is that Uber has the highest demand and keeps me busy.
Lyft was my primary company back in San Francisco. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have the same level of demand. Since I want to get bonuses in addition to my driving fare, I have been using Uber nearly 100% of the time.
This article will look at a few ideas I have for Uber to improve their app so drivers can be more efficient, earn more money, and provide customers with better service.
How Uber Can Improve in 2023
#1: Let me decline to queue up at the airport, and let me immediately start accepting rides.
At Sacramento Airport, you can’t decline to enter the airport queue and then accept rides away from the airport. Instead, I have to drive several minutes away from the airport before I can accept any rides.
As you can see, I entered the airport at 4:59 AM and could only accept rides once I got out of the airport zone at 5:06 AM. This is dead time, and it means future passengers have to wait longer to get me, and I have to wait longer to begin earning a fare.
In my experience, waiting in the queue for a ride at the airport always takes 10 minutes at maximum. Therefore I move on and get a ride quicker by leaving the airport. The only time I take a ride out of the airport is if I get a ping when leaving the airport, which only happens sometimes.
#2. Stop reducing the Quest bonuses each week.
I understand Uber is in the business of making money, and so drivers are a commodity and an expense to keep to a minimum. However, seeing a weekend Quest bonus slowly drop from $150 to $60 a weekend is frustrating and undermining.
Each weekend for the past three months, I have watched the bonus decline by about $10 a week. The algorithm can tell I drive on the weekends and tests how little I will accept. I realize nothing will change, and my desire to drive for Uber dribbles lower when considering how little they care for the drivers. This has been consistent theme of my rideshare experience.
#3 – Allow me to switch markets without deactivating me for a week
From 2015 to 2019, I drove for Uber and Lyft in the San Francisco market. I stopped driving for Uber and Lyft due to the pandemic. Earlier this year, I signed up for both companies at their Sacramento hubs. Lyft assigned me to the Sacramento market when I signed up. On the other hand, Uber continued to assign me to San Francisco.
You can see only San Francisco and the East Bay of Northern California. I called Uber and asked to be designated a Sacramento driver since I live in Sacramento and renewed my agreement background check here. I want to be offered the per-hour bonuses in Sacramento, since that is where I work.
As you can see above, I will have to be deactivated for a week for Uber to perform this task. Don’t ask me why a high-tech company can’t change a driver’s market on a computer screen in a minute. I have to believe the reason is to dissuade drivers from switching markets.
Uber is undoubtedly saving money on bonuses, which I am missing out on. I will wait until I go on vacation. Geez.
#4 – Stop telling me I am in a busy area and to expect rides soon.
Maybe it is me. But virtually every time I see this notice, I have to wait. My working theory is that Uber designed this notification to keep drivers in underserved areas so passengers won’t have to wait too long for a ride pickup.
As you can see in the screenshot below, I was on the freeway surrounded by fields. It’s not a hotbed of passengers looking for a ride.
The bustling areas don’t need a notification because there is no time between rides. My strategy is that when I get this notification, I drive away from the area. That seems to work better than parking and waiting and then moving out of the area.
#5 – Can you add auto-accept on future rides?
This one is my biggest gripe! This request is a no-brainer. Lyft does it, and it works.
Let me lay this out for you, so you understand my frustration with Uber. I am driving a passenger to a destination. I am focused on driving. I am focused on the passenger. Then I hear a very slight beeping. Even though the volume on my phone is maxed out, the notification is quiet. “Oh, jeez!” I say to myself. It’s an Uber ride.
Now I have a few seconds to focus on my phone, press the notification, see if the ride is good from a cost-benefit analysis, and tap to accept. Not only is there not enough time to react, but it also feels like a safety issue. Drive. Engage passenger. Watch Waze. Then on top of all that, I focus on the next ride offered to me. It seems like a lot to ask.
Most of the time, I can’t react quickly enough. For example, I took these screenshots this morning. Black on black is not going to attract my eye.
Usually, I can only respond when I hear a very low-level notification sound. As you see in the second screenshot, I have just a millisecond to accept. I certainly don’t get to evaluate the ride before accepting.
Usually, I blindly accept, and after completing the current ride, I evaluate the new ride. If the ride is too far away, then I cancel. In this case, I would have canceled because the ride was more than 15 minutes away.
Why not allow auto-accept? With Lyft, I don’t have to worry about a notification tone from my phone. Instead, the rides come in regardless of what I am doing. I am notified that a ride has been added to the queue. Once the current ride is over, I can evaluate the new ride and accept or cancel it.
#6. Don’t base Uber Pro on cancelation percentage when you don’t offer auto-accept.
Finally, moving on from #5 above, Uber bases their Uber Pro program on the cancelation rate of the driver. You must have 4% or less.
Since I don’t have time to evaluate the rides when I accept them, or I miss the ride altogether, I often cancel the ride for being too far away. This situation then impacts my Uber Pro status. I can get the points. However, I can’t get my cancelation rate low enough to qualify.
Given the current setup, I am not going to take rides that are over 15 minutes away. Those rides are not worth the drive. The net result is I will never achieve Uber Pro (which may be part of Uber’s strategy!)
What Are Drivers Saying?
Every year, we at The Rideshare Guy like to ask drivers on our Facebook page what changes they’d like to see from Uber and Lyft in the new year. Here’s a sampling of what you had to say:
Steve: “1. Uber and Lyft should clearly communicate to customers that rideshare is a “tipped occupation”.
2. Uber should adopt Lyft’s “no rating equates to five stars.” Both companies should study whether or not the current rating systems actually improve quality and safety. After six-plus years, I’ve concluded they add zero value, and may actually be counterproductive.
3. Uber and Lyft should have made permanent the fuel surcharge as a good faith gesture to drivers. It was unnoticeable to customers and even well supported. Ending it, especially when gig workers are coping with high inflation, was a classless move.”
Jon: “Raise rates, pay drivers more, but have higher expectations of drivers including safer vehicles and cleaner cars. As a passenger, I cringe when I see multiple warning lights on the driver’s dashboard. And it’s awkward getting picked up at the airport and there not being room in the trunk for a suitcase.
None of these things are driver’s fault – rideshare companies have created this race to the bottom and have lost good drivers because good drivers stop driving. Well-compensated drivers will maintain their cars, have more enthusiasm, and give passengers a better experience.”
Randy: “Better pay. Eliminating the 55c gas price adjustment hurt more than Uber knows or cares. The new scheduled rides format doesn’t tell me enough info (how far away is the pickup, how far are they going). I often get fares when I’m put of the car helping fares with luggage or wheelchairs. We need some sort of “pause” button Or “out of car” button.”
Simon: “1. No more rideshare insurance! I want to be covered the minute I go online.
2. Pay us for being online
3. Pay us more for accepting trips instead of filtering
4. No more waiting 5 minutes to cancel. If the passenger isn’t outside, we get to cancel and get a cancel fee.”
Fiona: “With Uber, I don’t want to be signed out after I decline three trips. It’s a pain in the ass. ￼ I don’t want passive-aggressive emails regarding acceptance rates, etc., from either of them. Higher payouts, of course. And better support. It’s appalling.”
In the Sacramento market, Uber is very reliable. With Uber, there is consistently high demand with plenty of rides. However, there is room for improvement. I don’t expect anything to change. Uber does what is best for Uber.
Taking care of drivers’ concerns has never been high on their list, judging by my experiences over the past seven years. But I will keep making suggestions that seem to align with our best interests.
What do you think of Jay’s list, and the comments from drivers? What would you like to see Uber and Lyft improve in 2023?
-Jay @ RSG