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5 min read

    5 min read

    It’s official: Uber’s 6 Destination Filter options are history. Today, senior RSG contributor Christian Perea discusses what happened and why, and what this could mean for Lyft’s destination filter options. 

    Well that didn’t last long.

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    Recently, Uber rolled back the number of times we can use Destination Filter from 6 to 2 uses per day. The move comes after Uber featured an upgraded Destination Filter as part of Chapter 3 of their 180 Days of Change campaign. Before August, drivers had always been limited to 2 filters a day.

    R.I.P.

    Destination Filter has always been a popular feature among drivers because it allows us to control the direction that rides will take us. I liked the idea of having six instead of two because it would allow me to use it more often instead of on the rare occasion where a ride took me far away from the city or at the beginning/end of my shift. The extra four really makes it feel like you have a lot more control over your routes.

    More importantly, in an era of lowest-fares-ever, it’s important to have that control over where you drive. So what went wrong?

    Uber decided to reduce drivers' destination filters from 6 back to 2, but why? And what does this mean for drivers and Lyft's destination filters?

    Uber Claims It Ruined Wait Times For Passengers

    Uber conveyed the bad news through the driver app as they began to shut down the destination filter party throughout the US and Canada. Apparently Uber hadn’t realized how popular the feature was going to be with drivers when we had more than 2 to use.

    Below is a screenshot of the message (in case you didn’t see it):

    Uber also called some of the drivers directlywho had been using Destination Filter a lot to let them know and apologize for getting their hopes up. As I scanned the driver forums yesterday, I even noticed some posts where drivers said they were happy that Uber called them to break the news personally. I also thought it was nice of them to do so, but other drivers reported logging on to their app and seeing only 2 instead of 6 and not knowing what was going on.

    What Do Drivers Think?

    Most drivers I spoke to weren’t very happy about the change for an obvious reason: it takes away flexibility.

    Driver James Scherber (who also moderates a Facebook group for San Francisco drivers) explained how the reduction in Destination Filters from Uber affected his decisions on the road:

    It makes it a lot more difficult to justify a trip over the Bay Bridge to the East Bay knowing that if you keep your app open and continue to accept rides, you might never get a ping heading back into San Francisco and you will be stuck in the East Bay with the dramatically lower per mile amounts. So if I’m out of filters, I end up shutting the app off. This doesn’t help Uber or me.

    I can relate to James because the pay in East Bay is just $0.6375/mile compared to $0.9075/mile. The low rates mean that people call for an Uber hella far and drag you out to places hours away, making your problem even worse!

    Everyone’s Destination Was Probably To The Same Place

    Let me run you through a scenario real quick…

    In the past, 2 filters for every driver meant there was little room for using the filter tactically. When Uber gave us six filters, it allowed for wider use and thus more reasons to use the filter.

    Let’s say it’s the evening commute and there is a 3.0x ball of Surge at the center of the city. In the past, drivers would try to get to the “Surge ball” by logging out of driver mode and heading into the surge (which is risky) OR they would stay logged in because of Quest and get a non-surge ride that took them the opposite direction of the 3.0x Surge.

    Some would use a Destination Filter to get to the big ball of Surge, because it effectively blocks requests from taking you away from the 3.0x surge.

    Since each driver only had 2 filters to use a day, not many would use this strategy at any given time. Most saved their filters for the commute home or longer rides (a better use IMO). Those of us who would set their filter toward the surge didn’t have a big enough effect on the overall supply of drivers vs passengers.

    More drivers using more filters more often

    But then we all had SIX! That meant that at any given time when there was surge that A TON of drivers would all set their filters to the same spot – all hoping to get a ride towards the Surge/Boost/busiest area of the city

    The result of that, however, is that there are A LOT of cars only able to give rides in one direction – the direction that people don’t want to go at rush hour! So wait times go up, and those who aren’t using Destination Filter get rides from 20 minutes away.

    Why Not Try 4 Destination Filters?

    Uber,

    What if I told you there was a number. An all natural number somewhere between 2 and 6. The number 4.

    2 + 2 = 2 × 2 = 22 = 4

    See how cool that is? I think it’s a sign of something good. It’s like halfway between “not enough” and “I’m not driving in that neighborhood

    Why didn’t Uber try 3 or 4 destination filters?  I don’t know.

    Will Lyft Follow Suit?

    If Uber is having all these problems with six Destination Filters, then it would probably show up with Lyft too right?

    Wrong.

    Lyft’s Destination Mode doesn’t work nearly as well as Uber’s, so it likely doesn’t have the same problems. Ironically, that might actually help Lyft decide to let us keep our six filters. I reached out to Lyft to see if they planned to go back to 2 filters. They said they’re “still monitoring how it’s all working out but will do what’s best for drivers“. For now, it looks like we get to keep six filters or Modes or whatever on Lyft. So that’s good.

    I really wish Sidecar would have won the rideshare wars. They didn’t care how often I used destination filter in 2014.

    Drivers! Do you care about losing 4 Destination Filters or is this all just a bunch malarkey to distract us from the fact that rates are still low? 

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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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