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.
Scheduled Rides is just as simple as the rest of Uber — in the same app, customers can tap 'Schedule A Ride' and then set a time, date, location and expected destination, and then confirm that trip after getting a fare estimate. The trip can be edited or canceled any time up until your booked car makes its way to you, and the app will push a reminder notification on the day of your pickup, half an hour before, and when your ride is on its way.
Scheduling a ride doesn't save you from surge pricing, though — you'll be notified if surge pricing is in effect when your pre-booked Uber is on its way to you.
In a statement, Uber said that the feature was the most requested from its customers since the service became available. "Since Uber's magic of 'push a button and get a ride' launched 6 years ago, people have valued the ability to access rides on-demand through our app. But we’ve also heard from our riders that sometimes they want to arrange a pickup in advance so they can rest assured that an Uber will be available when they need it, even if it’s for a 4AM ride to the airport."
At the moment, here's where Scheduled Rides are available around Australia:
Brisbane: Merthyr, New Farm, Newstead and Teneriffe. Melbourne: CBD and inner suburbs. Perth: CBD, inner suburbs and Fremantle. Sydney: Eastern Suburbs and Inner West.
Here's a video guide to how Uber Scheduled Rides works: