By on May 29, 2020

Amid widespread suspicion of other human beings and the general sense that public transit is a terrible way to travel when COVID-19 lurks everywhere, Uber has rolled out a feature offered overseas to some of its U.S. customers.

Instead of hailing a ride to the grocery store (or what have you), then dialing up another for the ride back, what if you could just keep your driver for the entire trip — like some sort of big shot?

That’s what Uber Technologies plans to offer in select U.S. cities, Reuters reports.

Before now, the hire-by-hour service was only available to customers in certain cities in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia. Unlike Uber’s regular ride-hailing service, this feature comes with a fixed cost: $50 an hour.

“Within the Uber app, you’ll be able to request this trip as you would any on-demand ride, while setting multiple stops as needed throughout your journey,” explained Niraj Patel, the company’s director of rider operations. “The cost is $50 per hour with mileage overage varying by city, and riders can book in hourly increments. Once requested, you’ll be matched with a driver who has a more spacious and newer vehicle make / model of cars that are eligible for Uber Comfort.”

Patel said the company is making the hourly option available for those who “anticipate needing additional flexibility when taking care of essential tasks, and for drivers so that they could access an additional earning opportunity.”

Having just one driver, perhaps driving a larger vehicle, reduces a rider’s exposure to other (potentially infected) individuals. For the driver, it means a similarly luckier roll of the dice, though if either of the two are infected, they’ll have extra time with which to transmit the virus. Nothing’s perfect in today’s new world. That said, both driver and rider, as of May 18th, are required to wear a mask or face covering.

As lockdown orders fell into place across the U.S. earlier this spring, Uber suddenly found itself with far fewer riders. A similar pattern preceded that in overseas locales. Ridership plunged 80 percent, globally, in April, though the company says things are now on the upswing. A move like this could tempt some riders to return to their Uber-using ways.

The hourly service rolls out in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, D.C., Houston, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Tacoma, and Tampa Bay on Tuesday, June 2nd.

[Image: BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock]

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2 Comments on “Keep Your Driver, Uber Tells Select Customers...”

  • avatar

    Ha! Only an Uber noob would fall for this. Riders have caught on that they can just put in the multiple stops, and many drivers will just wait and wait, even though riders are asked to keep stops to 3 minutes. Why would a rider pay $50/hour when they can work the system and get a driver for $.25/minute or $15/hour?

    • 0 avatar

      Wait time is richly compensated for taxi drivers, but poorly compensated for Uber drivers. In my two years of sporadic Uber driving, I can’t even tell you how much money I lost waiting for some asshole to come downstairs for their ride, or waiting in the goddamn Jack in the Box drive-through. Being an Uber driver can be kind of fun if you think of it like a videogame, but I pity those who do it because they truly NEED the money. For folks who were told it would pay their bills, it’s the express lane to baldness and living in that car.

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