UberPOOL has been a tremendous pain point for drivers since the product’s launch a couple years ago. Picking up and dropping off passengers is the toughest part about this gig, and UberPOOL only made that worse. Uber also pays drivers less per mile and per minute on UberPOOL compared to UberX, so it sometimes feels like you’re doing more work for less money.
At times, it even seems like passengers don’t like UberPOOL, since they seem to moan and complain whenever they get matched with another rider and I want to yell “Dude, you called for an UberPOOL!”
For the most part though, I’ve stopped giving UberPOOL rides unless I’m on a Quest Bonus or using the destination filter, and I know a lot of experienced drivers feel the same way. We actually surveyed drivers here in Los Angeles, a major UberPOOL market, and 75% of them were dissatisfied with their UberPOOl experience, so it’s no surprise that there are some major improvements that can be made.
Today, Uber announced Chapter 4 of their 180 Days of Change initiative and it’s focused on improving the UberPOOL experience for drivers and riders and the changes will go live immediately in Uber’s 13 UberPOOL markets.
I think the changes are definitely a step in the right direction since they address higher earnings for POOL rides, but only time will tell if the other additions actually make drivers want to take UberPOOL rides.
Increased Earnings for Drop-Offs and Pick-Ups on UberPOOL
Drivers will now earn an extra flat fare every time an additional pickup stop is added to their trip. The additional pickup fare ranges from $0.50 to $1 depending on the city (e.g. LA is $0.95), but it doesn’t apply to the first pick up. The extra fare only applies to additional pickups.
Uber has been testing this feature in Los Angeles for the past few months and it’s definitely made UberPOOL more tolerable. I also like the spirit of this change since it shows that Uber is recognizing extra pick-ups mean extra work for drivers, but I’m not sure the extra money will be worth it. A lot of drivers put up with UberPOOL today because each trip counts toward Quest Bonuses, so clearly more money makes POOL more tolerable, but $0.95 on additional pickups is not a ton of money.
Uber still pays drivers a lower rate card for UberPOOL than it does for UberX though, which has never made sense to me. Uber pays around 4 cents less per mile and 3 cents less per minute in LA for example.
And what about trips that don’t match? If you accept an UberPOOl ride and don’t get a match, you are making less than if you would have done the identical ride on UberX. Lyft Line pay used to be the same structure, but they recently increased their Lyft Line pay to match that of Lyft Classic, and the changes have been well received by drivers whom I’ve talked to.
I think this change by Uber is definitely a step in the right direction, but it will require some testing before we know for sure just how beneficial it is to drivers. My worry though is that a buck is not going to be worth it to do UberPOOL rides, especially since the per mile and per minute rates are lower than UberX.
Other Changes to UberPOOL
Uber also released a slew of smaller changes that I don’t think will have a huge impact but should improve the overall driver and rider experience:
- Rider Education: Uber is going to start notifying first time UberPOOL riders what they’re in store for when they request their first UberPOOL trip. After their first UberPOOL trip, riders will also get an e-mail with more information on how UberPOOL works. This is especially important in cities where UberPOOL first launches, but won’t have much of an impact in the existing 13 UberPOOL cities in my opinion.
- Better Ratings Experience: When you rate a rider less than 5 stars, Uber is going to start sending riders ‘constructive tips’. I guess this is a good thing, although I’d rather see this feature come to the driver’s side first! I got a 1 star rating the other night and have no idea why – even after 4 years of driving, it’s still frustrating to get a 1 star rating when all of your rides seemed like they went without a hitch. I have a feeling though it was one of my UberPOOl riders who I almost left behind 🙂
- Pool Ratings Protection: This feature was launched in Chapter 2 but now for UberPOOL rides specifically, if a rider rates you for something out of your control (like too many pick-ups or co-rider behavior) it won’t count toward your overall rating. I’m not sure how well this is actually working in practice though as highlighted above.
- Straighter Routes: Uber has improved their routing and says that drivers will now have 20% less turns on UberPOOL rides. Personally, I use Google Maps so I’m not sure that I’ll get any of the benefits of this one. If Uber does start to vastly improve their mapping though, I’d be happy to switch.
- Suggested Corner Pickups and Dropoffs: If a pickup or dropoff requires you to loop around the block, your rider will now receive a suggested corner location that’s along your route. If they accept, your route will update automatically and they’ll walk to the corner to save everyone time. This is a feature that sounds great in theory, but I think there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done. I live on a medium busy two way street in LA and even when I move the pin to the suggested pickup location, drivers only come to that side of the street half the time.
- Safer Stops: The Uber app is going to start detecting restricted zones for both UberPOOL and UberX in the coming weeks, making it safer to pickup and dropoff. This sounds like a helpful feature, but passengers are still going to want to be dropped off and picked up in illegal zones so it’s important that you are the captain of your ship and explain what you’re doing (or not doing).
I wasn’t super impressed with any of these ‘smaller features’ but I do think there’s a lot of potential for Uber to improve their mapping and routing on UberPOOL rides. If you think back to when UberPOOL and even destination filter first launched, there were a ton of weird routing issues and problems, but over time Uber improved their algorithms and the latter at least became much more reliable.
I think the same opportunity exists with UberPOOL and although it will take some time, I would be happy to do UberPOOL if I got paid more and it was only a slight inconvenience. Uber has set the bar pretty high with the 180 Days of Change, but this chapter was a bit underwhelming for me. I’d like to see UberPOOL rates match UberX AND an additional fee for the second pickup and dropoff.
Readers, what do you think of this latest round of changes to Uber? How do you think Uber’s 180 Days of Change campaign is going so far? Have you noticed positive changes?
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-Harry @ RSG