Before it gets rid of its drivers altogether, Uber is trying to make nice with them. But instead of paying them more or giving riders the ability to give them a tip, they're rewarding them with "compliments". Because if there's one thing unrepentant capitalism is good for, it's an imaginary reward system!
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Uber is getting its first proper update in five years. The completely redesigned app will let Uber passengers quickly choose their destination — including shortcuts for regular trips, your calendar appointments, and to meet up with any friends that also use the app. It'll also show you how much you'll pay upfront, and give you a reasonably accurate guess at when you'll get to where you want.
Uber is partnering with the car-sharing service Maven (which is owned and operated by General Motors) to let Uber drivers rent GM vehicles on a weekly basis. The business will cost drivers $US179 ($234) plus taxes and fees, and driver will not incur any extra fees for using the car for personal use.
Following a launch in Melbourne in April and Sydney in August, UberEATS is finally making its way to the other areas of Australia already well-served by Uber ridesharing. Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. It's no surprise to hear that Uber is pushing all the way around Australia, too — Melbourne is one of the most popular cities for UberEATS in the world, and a particular Greek wrap from George Calombaris' Jimmy Grants is the world's most popular UberEATS delivery.
Lyft — the ridesharing app that is unavailable in Australia — does something a lot of tech companies do: It runs a blog. It's where the company publicly celebrates its own excellence, for things like new features and anniversaries. It's also where, earlier this month, a story appeared praising one of the company's drivers for picking up a rider while en route to the hospital to give birth.
Lately, Uber has been gobbling up all of the self-driving car attention with its launch of an experimental program in Pittsburgh. But Lyft wants you to know that it shouldn't be counted out. In a manifesto published this morning on Medium, the rideshare company's co-founder, John Zimmer, outlined his vision of the future.
The big advantage that taxis in Australia have — or had — over Uber was the ability to organise a ride ahead of time, by calling ahead. But, like the rest of the crumbling monopoly of the taxi industry in Australia, Uber is taking that away. From today, Uber's Scheduled Rides feature will begin to roll out across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, and will let customers book a ride anywhere from 30 minutes to 30 days in advance.
Over the next two years, the current licencing regime for taxis, hire cars and ride share services in Victoria will be scrapped. All existing licenses will be removed, as will the knowledge test. In its place will be a new system of "industry accountability".
A $378 million fund will be available to existing drivers to help with the transition to the new system, which is being partially funded by a $2 per trip levy. That's right, Victorians, you'll soon be paying two dollars extra a ride.
A new Bloomberg report details Uber and Lyft's various partnerships with small local public transportation agencies in the US. In 2014, the local government in Pinellas Park, Florida nixed two of their least-travelled bus lines because of huge budget cuts. To compensate for that loss, the government then struck a deal with Uber to aide residents with the cost of their trips along those routes. The pilot program, reports Bloomberg, gives residents a 50-per cent discount with a maximum of $US3 ($4) per trip. (I can't speak the average cost of an Uber ride in Pinellas Park, but this seems like a very minimal subsidy to me.)