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5 min read

    5 min read

    Have you ever wished you could see where your passenger is going before you accept the ride? It’s one of many features drivers wish Uber and Lyft would add, but Uber and Lyft have resisted adding it… until now. Today, senior RSG contributor Christian Perea discusses the new feature Uber and Lyft may be adding to the Uber and Lyft driver apps.

    Over the last month, Uber and Lyft have both been piloting a new feature that allows drivers to see more information about their trips before they accept them. The pilot provides drivers with the estimated duration of trip, and Uber’s in particular will even tell you the general direction of the request so the driver will know what to expect – all on the acceptance screen.

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    Drivers have long requested to have more information available before accepting a request because it allows them to actually operate like a bona fide independent contractor. Drivers can be penalized or even deactivated for cancelling too many trips they accept.

    However, drivers also know very little about a trip request before they accept it. So we are forced to accept most trips and only reject them after we have driven to the passenger and hit “arrive” within the app, wasting both our time and our passenger’s time.

    Uber’s Pilot Shows Expected Time AND Direction!

    Uber is letting drivers know the direction and expected duration of a trip. This is extremely valuable because I might be more willing to do a short trip if I know it is heading in a direction I want to go. Further, I may decline to accept a trip if it is 45+ minutes and taking me away from home.

    Here’s a video from Uber Driver 101 about this new feature, plus what it looks like.

     

    Uber is currently testing Estimated Trip Duration & Direction in the following cities:

    • Orlando
    • New Jersey
    • Nashville
    • Jacksonville
    • Kansas City
    • Baltimore
    • Tulsa

    In order for drivers to see this information, they must maintain an Acceptance Rate of 80% or higher. It makes sense there’s some requirement to use this so drivers don’t abuse it, but I’d rather it be tied to a metric that actually matters like rating, lifetime trips (loyalty), etc.

    It is unclear if Uber plans to roll this pilot out to the rest of its drivers in the US but we certainly encourage them to do so since it will be a meaningful feature that gives drivers more control and flexibility on the road.

    Lyft’s Estimated Trip Duration

    Lyft’s version of this test will tell you the trip duration as long as you are a driver with Platinum status with Lyft. If you are part of this test, you’ll see an estimate for the trip duration in the middle of the “accept” screen between the map and the passenger rating.

    Unfortunately, we received word that Lyft will be pausing this beta test as of August 20th. We don’t know if they will roll out another, finalized version of this, but we encourage them to do so. Especially since drivers were upset to find out that they would no longer have this feature after about a month of having it.

    I guess Lyft giveth and Lyft taketh away…

    We recommend contacting your local Driver Advisory Council member with Lyft here. Make sure to stick to one subject per “feedback” you submit. I’ve included the following message to copy and paste to make it easier on you:

    As an independent contractor, I think it is integral to see more information about the fares I accept before committing to a ride. I would like to see the estimated time and the general direction of my next fare before I accept it. Having this information before I accept a request is valuable to me and my bottom line as a driver for your company. If Lyft does not do this, I will drive for any competitor that does.

    Just copy and paste the above into the “feedback” box on the Driver Advisory Board page. 😀

    Why Won’t Uber and Lyft Just Release This Feature?

    Uber and Lyft want us to drive, drive, and drive. It is not in their interest to have drivers “thinking” about the requests they want to accept because it can increase ETA’s for passengers and increase the amount of time to complete each passenger request. Everything is a lot easier for Lyft and Uber when every driver accepts every request they are given.

    This might be fine if we were employees, since Uber and Lyft would be able to dictate our work. However, as independent contractors who bear all of the costs of driving, I think we should be given more information about the types of trips we accept along with the freedom to determine for ourselves whether or not they will be profitable.

    Otherwise, it’s just another downside of being labeled an independent contractor with the expectation that we perform like employees.

    Will Drivers Just Cherry Pick Rides?

    Some certainly will. However, as a passenger I would rather have my driver decline the ride upfront instead of accepting it, driving all the way to my house, and then telling me he isn’t going to take me over the Bay Bridge because he has to be somewhere in 30 minutes. This happened to me just last week.

    Those who cherry-pick will always find a way to do it. Over the years I’ve seen fake texts, fake phone calls, and numerous other tricks to find out a passenger’s destination before showing up. As a passenger, it’s EXTREMELY frustrating when a driver finds out where I’m going and then drives the opposite direction, asks me to cancel, or drives to my house to pick me up and then cancels upon learning he has a fare he doesn’t like.

    I don’t blame drivers for this. It’s usually done out of desperation. None of this would be a problem if Uber and Lyft would address the root cause of this issue though: where the rider is headed.

    Readers, what do you think about this potential new feature to Uber (and maybe Lyft)? Are you in favor of knowing where your passenger is going, generally, ahead of time? Or does it not make a difference to you?

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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.