Uber Reserve: A New Way for Drivers to Plan Rides, Earnings

Uber has launched a brand new feature for passengers in certain markets called Uber Reserve. It’s only available to Uber Black and SUV drivers for now, but there are plans to roll it out to all tiers of service and the full nationwide market by the end of the year. How will Uber Reserve affect driver earnings? Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins breaks down what you need to know.

Quick summary:

  • Uber Reserve offers drivers more control over their schedule
  • Additional earnings opportunity, as drivers will receive 72% of the Reserve fare fee + regular Uber rates for their city
  • Potentially a benefit to drivers IF there is enough Reserve demand and if Uber’s scheduling algorithm gets drivers there on time

The Uber Reserve feature will be rolling out in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Charleston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, D.C., Fort-Myers / Naples, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Jersey, New York City, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Seattle. Uber is anticipating rolling Uber Reserve out to more cities over the coming months.

An update to Uber Reserve will now allow more affordable options for people looking to utilize this service. Instead of being available only for Uber Black and SUV, it will be available to Uber X and XL moving forward.

As of right now, it appears this addition is only happening in their London, Manchester and Bristol markets, but it will likely head to the U.S. as well. 


Uber Reserve: Enhanced Scheduled Rides Feature

Over the next week or so, Uber is rolling out a new feature called Uber Reserve. It’ll be available in 20+ cities across the U.S. and “provides you added control over your trip” according to Uber’s announcement. Uber announced this new feature to give ‘more certainty to our lives, especially during these uncertain times.”

Basically, Uber Reserve takes scheduled rides to the next level. As drivers, you’ll get from two hours up to 7 days heads up for these pre-scheduled rides. Passengers will be allowed to schedule trips up to 30 days in advance, with an upfront fare presented as scheduled rides do now.

As a driver, you’ll be matched up with your passenger, but don’t worry, you’ll still get the chance to not accept any trip you don’t want.

Additional Earning Opportunity for Drivers

A perk for drivers is that if an Uber Reserve ride is canceled less than an hour before the trip was scheduled to start, the driver will receive the full fee associated with the fare—meaning if it’s logged as a $52 trip, the driver will receive the full $52 if canceled within that time frame.

uber reserve

In order to book an Uber Reserve trip, there is a flat fee of $8-12 paid for by the passenger. The total amount is determined by the city in which the ride is requested. Drivers will receive 72% of this fee in addition to the regular time and distance of the fares as now.

If you’re listed as a favorite driver of the customer booking the trip, their request will come to you first for a limited time. If you pass, it will move on to another driver, but if you accept it will be added to your app. There is no punishment if a driver chooses not to accept an Uber Reserve trip request that comes through to them.

Uber Black and Uber SUV rides will see requests first and Uber will be bringing UberX, Comfort, and XL into this experience by the end of the year allowing for these options at different price points.

With Uber Reserve, the passengers are guaranteed an additional 15 minutes of waiting time, so they have added flexibility given to their departure time. Along with that additional wait time, you’re also guaranteed an on-time pickup. If your driver does not arrive on time, you’ll receive $50 in Uber Cash.

Uber Reserve in Action for Drivers

How does Uber Reserve work for drivers? As a driver, you need to be online an hour before the scheduled trip. In the Uber app, you’ll receive trips heading toward your reservation in the meantime.

uber reserve

If you’re offline when it’s getting closer to the one-hour-before mark, you’ll receive a notification telling you to go online within the next 15 minutes. If you don’t log in during that time, the reserved trip will be pushed to another driver.

Within the app itself, you’ll be sent to navigate toward your reservation when the right time comes to do so. It will look like the image above on the right.

The Uber Reserve feature will be rolling out in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Charleston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, D.C., Fort-Myers / Naples, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Jersey, New York City, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Seattle.

My Thoughts as a Driver

There are upsides and downsides of this that I can see happening already. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a passenger, so being “on time” is not always possible.

And speaking of on-time, I would feel like I can’t accept every trip that comes through on my way to the destination because of the possibility of that passenger running late/taking their time to get to my car or asking for “quick stops” along the way to their destination. That would make me feel like I’m not giving my 100% to each customer, but giving maybe 80% to one so I can give 100% to the next.

But also, I would not be happy with myself if I arrived 30 minutes early to the destination and sat outside waiting for the scheduled ride to start.

I like the idea that the driver will receive the full payment if the rider cancels within an hour, but I do see this as allowing for scummy drivers to be, well, scummy. I’ve read enough posts on Reddit to know that some drivers will do anything to make a passenger cancel on them instead of the other way around.

For example, some drivers will not take off toward a destination unless the passenger calls to confirm or cancels on them out of frustration. The driver would then get this full fee while the passenger has to pay for the full thing plus then schedule a new driver to come pick them up ASAP.

I would hope that drivers have more decency than to try something like this to make money without actually earning it, but some people don’t care how they get it. That kind of behavior will give all other drivers a bad reputation as misbehaving drivers already do.

Don’t get me wrong, passengers do some unforgivable things too, but for this kind of a trip, I’m not seeing how passengers could scam drivers overall. I’m sure it’s possible and something will come to light at some point. The future will reveal any possibilities there.

Overall, I feel like this kind of trip will definitely be beneficial to passengers for scheduling reasons. For example, if I know I have a doctor’s appointment coming up in a couple of weeks, I would love the opportunity to book a ride now and not have to think about it again until the day of.

As a driver, I could see times where I’d like to be able to schedule a ride, but I also don’t like the idea of being tied to one specific trip just in case something were to come up, or if I didn’t feel like driving anymore by the time the trip came up. I’m sure it’s possible to cancel the trip as a driver, but it could make things sticky for the next driver or for the passenger or both.

On the passengers’ side, Harry is a bit incredulous by the high service fee, but according to the CEO of Alto, Will Coleman, optimizing for truly pre-scheduled rides is more expensive – plus Uber is going to pay out if the passenger cancels within an hour OR if the driver arrives late, even if only by one minute.

Also as a driver, I tend to be pessimistic about any changes within the Uber app until I can see it shake out for myself. Will it benefit drivers or only really bring a benefit to passengers? The answer may vary based on who the drivers are and what they are expecting out of this new feature.

If Uber Reserve is in your city, let us know what it’s been like for you! Are you busy with Reserve requests? Do other requests take you in the direction of your Reserve request?

-Paula @ RSG