In context: As rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are rapidly expanding around the globe, regulators have struggled to keep up. Last year, however, California passed a law that would forcefully reclassify as employees many gig workers and entitle them to the many benefits that come with that status (such as sick leave).
Uber is fighting back against the law, but while the fight goes on, the company will make some changes to its California operations in order to better fulfill the wishes of regulators.
For example, Uber is going to change the pricing model in the state completely. Consumers won’t know exactly how much their ride will cost up front— instead, they’ll get an “estimated price range” that can vary a bit. The variation for a UberXL ride could be between $38 and $55, while the range could be between $27 and $36 on a UberX ride. A ride’s true cost will not be calculated until it is finished when Uber can determine the “actual traveled time and distance.”
Another change Uber is making to its app is actually more of a feature — after giving them a 5-star rating, users will now be able to “Favorite” some drivers. Once a rider favors the workers, when that customer next requests a trip, they will be given priority over other drivers.
For Uber drivers and riders, the final major change is related to Uber Rewards. Customers based in California will not have access to benefits such as price protection on a route or flexible cancellations in the future. In the future, Uber hopes to replace these benefits with new ones, but it may be a while.
In his announcement, Uber did not specify exactly how these changes address the concerns of Californian legislators. Nonetheless, they do seem to be aimed at providing riders with a more reliable, safe working environment at the expense of consumer comfort— the former was California’s new law’s primary goal, so perhaps lawmakers will be pleased with these adjustments.