About a week after Uber won the prop. 22, to keep drivers classified as independent contractors in California, the California-based ridesharing company has rolled a new feature in an attempt to win more market share.
The feature will enable riders to reserve rides up to 30 days in advance and pick their favorite driver for the trip. The new option, called Uber Reserve, will begin to show up on the cab company’s app next week. Uber said it is designed for riders who want to book rides from two hours in advance.
Uber said its current “schedule a ride” option will be kept open for those trips that fall under that two hours in advance timeline.
“While saving you time lays at the heart of our service, we wanted to take this idea to the next level by building mobility features that more flexibly fit around your life,” said Holley Beasley, operations lead at Uber.
Part of the Reserve feature is showing the fare upfront and being matched to a driver ahead of the trip. There is also a “favorite driver” option designed to allow riders select drivers they prefer. They can now add favorite drivers to their app, and once they select the Reserve features, riders will have the choice to select one of their “favorite drivers.” Uber said the favorite drivers will be presented to riders first when they request a ride, and the drivers will not be penalized if they declined the request.
Uber Reserve will launch first in 20 US cities and will start with premium Uber Black and Black SUV rides. The company said it will make the feature available to other ride options such as Uber X, “comfort” and XL by the end of the year. The new feature will initially launch in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Charleston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, D.C. Fort-Myers/Naples, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Jersey, New York City, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Seattle.
Uber also introduced an additional 15-minute grace period if the rider is running late and an on-time guarantee that will give users $50 in Uber Cash if their driver is even a minute late to the ride they have scheduled. The company told TechCrunch that the Uber Cash will come directly from Uber, not the driver’s earnings.
The ridesharing company said it has added additional protection for the drivers as well. If a Reserve ride is cancelled within an hour of the trip, the driver will be compensated with the full fare.
Uber seems to be readying for a market rebound after the turmoil of COVID-19 pandemic. The news of Pfizer vaccine that is 90% effective in preventing the spread of the virus impacted Uber’s stock positively. Its shares rose 7.38% to close at $48.18 following the news of the vaccine.
Techcrunch reported that the stock rise is the highest close for Uber since its public market debut in May 2019. It is also the first time since June 2019 that shares close above its $45 IPO price.
Following the outbreak of the pandemic, Uber’s business has been hardly hit as the lockdown and other safety measures restrict movement. To stem the tide, Uber has focused on food delivery. Its Q3 report showed a significant drop in revenue even though the food delivery segment of its business was expanded.
Uber reported gross bookings of $14.7 billion in the period, recording a decline of 10% compared to the same quarter last year. The bookings generated $3.1 billion revenue for the company, 18% decline compared to the same period a year ago.
Analysts had expected the company to earn $3.2 billion. But it partially made up for the loss with an earnings-per-share beat. Uber lost $0.62 per share in the quarter, falling short of $0.65 expectation.
Uber’s third quarter loss was $1.1 billion, a slight difference from the $1.2 billion loss last year.
The company said it will apply the prop.22 approach in fight with state laws in other cities.