As the title states, Uber is allowing drivers to set their own fares. This is in response to AB-5, a bill that was passed in California to help not just drivers there, but gig workers as well.
It should be noted though, that this is being tested by Uber and not available to all drivers, just some drivers and initially starting at 3 different airports.
Drivers at three airports will be able to set a fare multiple of up to five times Uber’s base rates. Starting next week, drivers will also be able to charge less than Uber’s rates if the company surges prices at times of high demand.
Basically, if you were one of these drivers, you can set your own rate when it is not surging, (up to 5x the rate, which honestly equals the base taxi rate) as well as charge less when it is surging.
*Uber will have a minimum rate, in order to combat drivers who think 20 cents a mile is worth it.
Drivers with the lower rate will be matched first, so this will likely become a surge killer as most drivers get impatient when the surge goes up and will end up taking a ride at a lower price in order to get some type of surge. For surge to be able to climb, all drivers must be willing to wait. (again, there are drivers who will always work for less)
So what does this mean for Houston drivers?
As of right now, likely not much. Houston drivers have been notorious to look out for themselves and are unlikely to organize for a better cause. This is why HB100 was passed after being lobbied by Uber and Lyft together. (When Uber and Lyft decide to lobby together, drivers are the last thing on their mind) While it is possible to get together to invoke change, it is very hard to do so after a entire bill has been passed, one which is well liked by the ridesharing gods, Uber and Lyft. While Uber can easily implement this nationwide, it is very unlikely they will do so voluntarily.