More Uber riders will soon have to pay for making their driver wait. Uber announced today that customers will be charged for taking longer than two minutes to get to their driver in another 12 cities.
Uber has been testing the late-rider charge policy in New York, New Jersey, Dallas, and Phoenix since April.
“In the cities where we’ve been testing this,” Uber writes in their new driver blog Behind The Wheel, “we’ve seen that riders are more likely to be prompt. We’ll be expanding the policy to a dozen U.S. cities this month, with more coming soon.”
The expansion of late charges is one of six changes Uber announced today in an effort to make work easier for its drivers, who are loudly unsatisfied. In April, the company settled a $100 million lawsuit to keep drivers from being labeled as employees, which would have cost Uber a lot more (insurance and benefits) and subjected it to new rules for employees. The company also allowed drivers in New York City to join a drivers guild (just don’t call it a union).
Starting today, Uber is focusing on features and rewards to make their non-employee independent contractors happy.
In addition to paying drivers when riders make them wait, drivers will also get discounts when they use Uber.
“It’s great to be in the back seat sometimes — not least because you can experience first-hand what it’s like to be a rider,” proclaims the corporate blog.
According to Uber, one in four drivers use the service to get around. To help those people, Uber is running a pilot program to give drivers 15 percent and 50 percent off, depending on how many rides the driver gives per week.
Other additions for drivers include Instant Pay through an Uber debit card, in-person driver assistance locations, the ability to pause the app from ride requests, and driver destinations. Additionally, Uber’s new blog, Behind The Wheel, will now serve as the go-to website for news that affects drivers.
Other than the expansion of wait-time charges, riders probably won’t notice the additional features. There might, however, be happier Uber drivers shuttling people around.
These updates show that improving the driver experience is one of Uber’s priorities — at least until Uber perfects their self-driving car and doesn’t have a need for a litigious fleet of drivers.