Big news for Uber drivers: Uber has heard drivers and is rolling out three brand new features that drivers have been asking for. Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur shares this exciting news below. Let us know in the comments what you think about these new features!
What is the world coming to? Something I have wanted for the last four years is finally coming to an Uber driver app near you!
We just got word today that Uber will be rolling out three new features to California drivers on Tuesday – December 3, 2019. This will be a phased roll-out, which means that 30% of CA drivers will get the new features to start and the rest of California will gain access to these new features over the next month.
For now, this is a California-only program, but it sounds like it could be coming to other states as well in the future. Let’s jump into these three features and I will lead with the most exciting one first.
Uber Announces New Features for California Drivers
#1 – The Four Ds. Dollars, Distance, Duration, and Direction
They say a picture says a thousand words, so let’s look at this screenshot from Uber:
Going forward, this is what you can expect to see when you get a ping, on every single trip. First, you will be told the approximate value of the ride. In this example, the driver can expect to earn $14 to $19 dollars.
Next, we can see the estimated distance and duration of the ride. In this case, 9 miles in 20 minutes. Finally, we can look at the map and see the pick-up and drop-off point.
Additionally, you can still see the type of ride, which in this case is UberX, the passenger’s rating and the ETA on the map (7 minutes, it used to be in the card). This is a tremendous amount of knowledge for any driver to determine if this is a ride worth accepting.
This feature will also work with Uber Pool. Additional riders will still be auto-added to the queue, but you will see all the same information and now have the option to decline the ride. In the past, there was no decline button, but you could remove them from queue by going to the trip planner and doing it manually/stopping new requests.
The driver will be given more information on which to base your decision to accept or decline a ride.
Why Is Uber Doing This?
The argument against this kind of information in the hands of drivers has always been twofold. First, some passengers who have a particularly difficult ride will not get picked up. For example, let’s say the traffic on a bridge is very bad, and you can see the ride will take you across the bridge, then no driver will accept the ride and that tarnishes Uber’s product for passengers.
Second, certain areas of town are deemed undesirable and even dangerous to drive. Since up to this point, we drivers were not privy to the destinations, we took the passenger wherever they wanted to go. We did not have a choice. Now we do.
The counter-argument to the first point is simple. Yes, some passengers will get declined once, maybe twice, maybe even three times. However, each driver is different and has their own preferences. Eventually, a driver will accept the ride and do it with a smile on his or her face. Uber only gives you 10 seconds to accept a ride. If six drivers did not accept, that would only be one extra minute of wait time for the passenger.
To the second point, some drivers will avoid certain areas. But most will not. Personally, I have never avoided an area. We drivers are in cars, and I feel safe in my car. I can only speak for myself, but I will do my pick-ups and drop-offs based on my daily revenue and time goals and not based on which parts of town feel safer than others. The only color I care about is green!
Related article: Click here to learn how to make hundreds of extra dollars per month while driving for Uber.
More Independence For Drivers
Uber told us that they are attempting to provide drivers with more flexibility. This new information certainly achieves this goal. Just this past weekend, I was at the end of my shift and I got a ride from San Francisco to Vacaville (approximately 90 minutes out of town).
The people were so nice that I could not kick them out of my car. I drove, dropped them off, and then deadheaded for two hours in traffic back to San Francisco. This feature would have saved me that ride and all that lost revenue. Plus, there’s a very good chance another driver would have taken that ride (potentially someone who lives in Vacaville!) and been happier to do so.
Another reason Uber may be doing this, specifically in California, is to get ahead of the legislative action taken by California in recent months. You can read more about California’s new law, which if passed and implemented, could classify Uber and Lyft drivers as employees. These new features from Uber will make the state’s argument that much tougher.
However, this information does not address the real issue for drivers, which is we still can not set our own prices. While I love this feature, I don’t see how it changes my status in the face of AB5.
#2 – No More 85% Acceptance Rate Requirement For Uber Pro
What good is feature number one above if your acceptance rate must remain high? If you see an undesirable ride on your app, but you have already rejected quite a few rides, then you might still accept the ride for fear of losing your Uber Pro benefits. That does not need to be a concern any longer.
There is no longer an Acceptance Rate requirement for Uber Pro. You could reject every single ride and still maintain your Uber Pro status. This is a wonderful adjunct to feature number one. Uber seems to be providing a very good upgrade to the drivers’ experience
#3 – Favorite Driver Feature
How many times have you had a passenger tell you they wish they could use you in the future? It has happened to me quite a bit. Well, now they can.
When a passenger likes your service, they can designate you as a Favorite Driver.
Then, when the passenger wants to schedule a ride, those drivers that have been designated a “favorite” will be immediately notified and given the first right of acceptance. If no one accepts it, then the normal matching algorithm goes into effect.
Since most scheduled rides are long rides, it may be worth it for a driver to accept and take the ride. No doubt, there would likely be a good tip added to your payout as well.
I think the logistics of this feature still need to be worked out, but I see a lot of potential for use with scheduled rides. If I can get a notification a few days or even a week in advance that a passenger wants a 5-6 am ride to the airport for $40-50, I would gladly take that ride to start my day.
Key Takeaways for These New Uber Driver Features
Hats off to Uber. This is like Christmas, but even Santa is surprised. I know I am surprised. I never thought I would see the day in which either Uber or Lyft would provide drivers with this kind of information without any strings attached.
With feature number one, you will be able to make your day a bit more profitable and far more predictable. Feature number two ensures you will not be penalized for being more selective in your rides. And feature number three, while not as impactful as the first two, is still a nice touch which may reward excellent service with a few repeat passengers on longer trips. I could certainly see passengers really appreciating feature number three.
Bravo Uber. Be safe out there.
Readers, what do you think of these new Uber features? Are you looking forward to when they roll out to your state (if you’re not in California)?
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-Jay @ RSG