Oct 24, 2017 - Technology

Uber adds a "long pickup" fee as it works to make drivers happier

A car with both Uber and Lyft signs. Photo: Richard Vogel / AP

Uber's latest move to make its drivers happier is a new fee it will apply when it takes longer than 8 or 11 minutes (depending on the city) to pick up a passenger. This is seemingly designed to make drivers feel less like they're wasting time and gas before they even get to the passenger. The fee will be calculated based on both time and distance.

Why it matters: While Uber told The Verge that it aims to help passengers by incentivizing drivers to go the longer distance to pick them up (if they live in the suburbs, for example), this is could backfire. For one, passengers might opt to not take an Uber ride given the higher fees—and say, hail a Lyft ride, or drive themselves.

It's also not clear how this will play out in urban areas when there's a lot of traffic or a driver shortage. Uber already uses its "surge pricing" mechanism to mitigate some of these situations, so passengers aren't likely to appreciate paying an extra fee just because a sporting event caused traffic and a delayed pick-up.

More: Uber is also rolling out a new passenger cancellation fee. Drivers will now earn either the standard fixed rate fee, or a fee based on time and distance—whichever one is greater.

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