I spend a gross amount of money on Uber and not just because I can't brave the outdoors once it dips below 20 degrees (but, yes, that too). In addition to standard taxes and fees, the ride service has a reputation for surge pricing. Now, as if that weren't enough, it looks like Uber rides could cost even more as the result of a new test the company is running.
The update, which is currently testing in California, will allow drivers to up charge rides in 10% increments, according to a report by The Verge. It will, essentially, cultivate a bidding culture within the app. Drivers offering cheaper fares will score the quickest customers, but as demand grows, so does the price. Ultimately, drivers can charge up to five times the normal price for a ride.
This isn't the only development in California. Uber is also introducing a number of updates for drivers and passengers alike. Drivers will now receive upfront info on travel time, distance, destination, and estimated fares and can reject trips without penalty. Meanwhile, riders will receive a price range rather than set fares and can "favorite" specific drivers for repeat requests, according to the company.
Right now, the pricing trial phase is limited to airport journeys in Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, and Sacramento, per the report. The company is testing in smaller cities before a larger, possibly statewide, rollout. But why the sudden shift? The move may be a response to Cali's gig work law, which makes it harder for the Ubers and Lyfts of the world to classify employees as contractors rather than actual company employees. Giving drivers increased independence and pricing responsibility is a way to swerve around the new law.
h/t The Verge