Uber introduced a couple of new features in Houston. Now drivers can see how much they make upfront, and exactly how far they will have to travel from where they are, to the rider, and then to the destination which is also shown. Great right? Personally, these are features I have been looking forward to. No more, 3 am trips to Louisiana. =)
However, one of them, called “Trip Radar” was designed to combat cherry-picking of rides, which has always been somewhat of a problem. With Uber showing the trip and payout information upfront, this cherry-picking problem will exponentially increase.
Uber’s Trip Radar works to combat that showing a few drivers at a time a rider that is available. Now, drivers have to accept a ride before another driver does. For those who have been around for a while, especially Austin drivers, you may recall an app called “Get Me”, that ended up failing because it worked the same way, although it looks like Uber is only showing a few drivers (the closest drivers) at a time and not the entire city. Nonetheless, not being able to grab rides quick enough resulted in drivers giving up, signing off and going home, or using other apps. This caused riders to wait a very, very long time and riders found other apps fairly quickly. Of course, there were a few other reasons, but Get Me did pay double of what Uber was paying drivers and drivers gave up because it was not easy to get rides. The same thing will inevitably end up happening.
Uber also announced this week that rates will be changing. “Drivers will see a decrease in longer trips, but an increase on shorter trips”
Guess what? We are seeing more rate cuts in Houston than anything because that is how the city is set up. We are not a walkable city and most of our trips are by default longer. With Trip Radar, you do not have time to calculate your per mile/per minute rate until after you take the ride. Uber has also removed the per mile and per minute rate from the driver app. This means Uber can and will charge drivers whatever they want.
What is Cherry Picking?
Cherry-picking, for those who are unfamiliar, happens when a driver decides to wait for a trip they think will pay out more. Example: After a concert, I like to wait for a trip that comes on a surge that has a long trip indicator on there. This way, there is a good chance I am getting a high-paying ride. Other drivers, like to call and ask how the rider how far they are going with some lame excuse like a doctor’s appointment they have to be at. If they do not like where the rider is headed, they will wait in one spot and/or drive in the opposite direction of the rider in the hopes they cancel. Pretty unethical, but that is what they do. (Uber combatted this by making a stipulation that if you have too many cancels, they will deactivate the driver’s account.)
Update – March 29, 2022
After using Trip Radar for a few weeks, I have learned/observed a couple of things I want to update ya’ll with as well as stop some of the misinformation:
1) Rides only appear in Trip Radar after a driver declines.
Uber realizes if one driver declines, chances are other drivers will also think the ride is “trash”. — If Uber decision-makers read this, perhaps you should increase the price as you show more drivers the ride to entice us.
2) There are some good rides on Trip Radar.
While most are trash, there are a few good ones so you should not write this off completely.
3) Cherry Picking is not preventing riders from getting rides.
I was a bit worried that Cherry Picking while good for drivers (I am 100% guilty of this) while good for drivers, will become a problem for riders. In these past few weeks, I have not seen a Trip Radar ride not be matched with a driver. A driver usually takes it pretty quickly, but the longest time I have seen a trip sit on the screen was for about a minute. A driver then matched with the request. Surprisingly, drivers still want the $3 rides. While that is because of a quest or because it is in a direction they want to go, who knows, but riders are still being picked up from everywhere, despite the distances and low pay.
4) It is not that dangerous
It is not dangerous to have all of this information pop up. Some drivers, like Sergio Avedian from the Rideshare Guy state this has too much information and becomes dangerous to look at.
Yea, no s***t Sherlock:
PSA: Looking at your phone in general while driving is dangerous. Do I really need to remind a “veteran driver” of this? Pullover to a safe spot in between rides. You get to not only be safe, but you get to save on gas, mileage, and the general wear and tear that comes with higher mileage. The only way this could be a little bit trickier is if you are driving in NYC or San Francisco, but I mean, in most jurisdictions, it is illegal to use your phone while driving anyways. Finding a safe spot to watch the phone is just part of the job. If you can’t do that, then please, find another job.
This is not a feature designed for us to lose money:
Hopefully, Lyft adds a similar feature like Trip Radar and shows Upfront Pricing. Despite what Avedian stated in his article, personally, with the introduction of Trip Radar and Upfront Pricing, this turned into a pay raise for me. Yes, I was skeptical at first as both Uber and Lyft love to wrap wolves, aka new features, in sheep’s clothing. This is simply not the case with Trip Radar. Be smart.
Since these companies love to copy one another, come back here to get the scoop when Lyft decides to do right by drivers like Uber.