Uber Adjusts Algorithm to Attract More Drivers

The changes affect pay for short trips and allow drivers to see a passenger's destination before accepting a ride.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
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Uber is trying to lure drivers back to the platform after a pandemic dip by changing its algorithm.

Angela Lang/CNET

Ride-hailing services like to market themselves to drivers as a way to work their own hours and make money on the side of other jobs. The reality of that situation hasn't always lived up to the promises made by those companies. Now, Uber is adjusting the driver pay algorithm in 24 cities to let drivers see a potential ride's destination and how much that trip will pay before accepting it, Automotive News reported Saturday

Uber is also changing the way it pays for short trips to give drivers more incentive to accept them, which should make riders' experience better too.

"There should be less guess work in gig work -- that's why we are testing new features to give drivers more control and choice, including showing how much they'll make and where they will go on every trip request before they accept it," an Uber representative said in a statement Monday. "Our goal is for driver earnings to remain consistent and to keep Uber reliable for riders, but we know these are meaningful changes, so we'll continue to listen to driver feedback throughout the pilot."

Uber drivers in California have been able to see rider destinations since 2020, but the company resisted doing it on a broader scale over concerns that it could lead to discrimination against riders going to low-income areas. In the time since that policy was enacted in California, Uber says it hasn't seen ride discrimination, hence the wider rollout.

All of these changes are meant to attract new drivers and bring back drivers who may have stopped during the pandemic, according to Uber. If it works, the company will likely expand the changes to more cities, and if not, the changes will probably be discontinued.

Do you drive for Uber in one of the cities where the changes are being tested? If so, let us know what you think of them in the comments. Are they increasing the amount of money you make for a given shift, or are you making less?

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First published Feb. 28.