The last year has been rather rough for Uber, with the company mired in one scandal after another, harming the ride sharing service's image among both riders and drivers. Following a controversial dispute with Waymo, the resignation of the company's second-in-command and CEO Travis Kalanick taking an indefinite leave from the company, Uber today announced a '180 days of change' campaign aimed at rejuvenating its brand and appeasing its increasingly frustrated drivers.
As the first part of this initiative, the company has announced the arrival of tipping for Uber drivers, a long requested feature. For now, only riders in Minneapolis, Seattle and Houston will have the option to tip their drivers, though the company has promised a nationwide rollout in the US by the end of July.
Alongside the possible increase in earnings from tips, drivers for Uber will also be pleased with some of the changes to the company's policies on wait times and cancelations that may also yield higher benefits. Cancelation times after which a fee needs to be paid have been reduced from 5 to 2 minutes. Waiting for a passenger for more than 2 minutes will also turn on the meter and drivers will be paid for any additional wait time. Ferrying a teen in your Uber also nets an additional $2, for some reason.
Improvements to Quests mean every trip made by a driver now counts toward the Quest total and these earnings can be immediately cashed using Instant Pay. There's also the option for Driver Injury Protection Insurance, the costs of which will be offset by a slightly higher per-mile rate, for added protection against personal or financial injury while on the job.
These, and other changes to follow in the next 180 days, are sure to allay at least some of the concerns of Uber drivers but the increased costs, and Uber's adoption of policies that no longer promise a fixed per-mile cost, may not sit well with customers and shrink the service's relative advantage over traditional taxis in terms of pricing.