Uber Wants to Help Drivers Find Cheaper Gas, and a Loo
Co is betting that the changes will increase its own rating among drivers
Being an Uber driver gives you a lot of freedom as an independent contractor, but it also comes with a lot of headaches.
Taxes are extra complicated to report. And there’s no health insurance from the job, so you have to arrange that yourself.
Uber, though, is trying to position itself as a driver’s best friend by focusing first on their basic needs. And yes, that includes potty breaks.
This week, Uber drivers will see a rollout of changes to their app, including a new gas finder feature. While the driver app normally shows the map of the city, including a honeycomb map of where prices are surging, the company is adding new gas icons that map out where drivers can stop to refuel. Each icon shows a recent gas price, thanks to a few strategic partnerships, so drivers know if driving a couple extra blocks will result in better gas savings. That’s just the start. The company is also working on other projects that could address some basic needs of its drivers.
Inspired by a hackathon project codenamed ‘Poober’, Uber is exploring adding driver-friendly bathrooms to the map. This could
then open the door to coffee shops and restaurants being added to the map. And all of these could be leveraged into partnerships, so Uber drivers get a discount in return for the company featuring the restaurant on the map.
It’s all part of a brewing war between ride-hailing companies as they fight over keeping drivers on the road.
THE PLAY FOR DRIVERS
This week, a new “driver rewards” section will also appear in the app so Uber’s partners can easily access the discounts.
Because Uber drivers are independent contractors, the company doeshavetobecarefulinhowmuch information it gives them. For example, the healthcare section only links to Stride Health, which shows option for health plans. The company doesn’t (and can’t) mandate the drivers use it though. A deal with AT&T and Verizon means drivers can get 20% off their data bill, even if it is a family plan. For Uber drivers who do more than 100 rides a month, Uber can also send them a fuel card to use and have it automatically deducted from their paycheck and include gas costs on their tax information. Also coming soon will be the Instant Pay option to get paid whenever you want to cash out. For now, this sends money to a specificGoBankdebitcard,butinearly May,Uberwilladdtheoptionofhaving it sent directly to a driver’s debit card for a 50 cent fee.
Small changes like Fuel Finder make a difference when a driver is in unfamiliar territory, and Uber is betting that these changes will increase its own rating among drivers.