Over the next 180 days, Uber plans to roll out a variety of new driver benefits.
Sean HollisterSenior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
The biggest surprise: Uber is adding tips, starting today.
Starting in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston, then rolling out to all US drivers by the end of July 2017, the tipping feature will be part of the Uber app. That's about as official as you can get.
And it's just one of the many reforms Uber claims it will offer its drivers over the next 180 days. In an email sent to drivers, which opens up to a fuller website here, the company's promising a variety of "meaningful changes & improvements to your driving experience."
So far, the first chunk of reforms are focused on helping drivers earn more money, though the website hints that future batches of changes may fall under different themes.
Shorter 2 Minute Cancellation Window You'll receive a cancellation fee if your rider cancels after more than 2 minutes (down from 5 minutes previously). No More Unpaid Wait-times You will earn a per-minute rate if you wait for a rider, starting 2 minutes after arrival. All Driver Destination Trips Count Toward Quest Every trip you take now counts toward reaching your Quest total. Quest Earnings are Available for Instant Pay You can now immediately cash out your Quest earnings using Instant Pay. Expanded Driver Destinations You can now set two trips a day going your way and earn with every mile. Driver Injury Protection Insurance You have the option to help protect yourself, and your earnings, in the event of a covered accident. To help you take advantage of this option, you will earn a bit more per-mile. For costs, complete coverage details, and state availability via Aon, tap here. Teen Fare For teen account trips, $2 will be added to the base fare and you'll earn more for those rides.
(Uber has a pilot program for teen drivers in Seattle, Phoenix, and Columbus, Ohio.)
Uber has been under fire for the way it treats drivers in the past. A judge famously rejected a $100 million class-action settlement in 2016 for being inadequate to compensate drivers in California and Massachusetts who wound up paying a variety of costs out of their own pockets.
"Today's tipping announcement is an important win for drivers and proves that thousands of drivers coming together with one voice can make big changes," reads part of a statement from the Independent Drivers Guild. "Cuts to driver pay across the ride-hail industry have made tipping income more important than ever."
Why now? "Because it's the right thing to do, it's long overdue, and there's no time like the present," writes Uber.