Uber to Begin Charging Riders Extra If It Takes Drivers Longer To Reach Them

New fees sweeten the pot for drivers.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Uber is adding new fees that may irk some passengers, but that drivers will probably appreciate. The ride-sharing company will charge an extra fee to riders if it takes a driver longer to reach them, if they take longer getting to the car, or if they cancel trips at the last minute.

The new fees are meant to make longer trips less financially risky for Uber drivers. Some drivers have told the company that long trips "can feel like a gamble," Uber head of driver product Aaron Schildkrout said in an interview with The Verge. Having to spend extra time on a trip for the same amount of pay is a bad way to make a living. So from now on, Uber drivers will earn standard time and distance rates on the way to longer pickups, in addition to the existing fare. 

Exactly when the extra fees kick in will depend on the market and the length of the pickup, but the window will generally be after eight to 11 minutes of driving to pick up a passenger, according to Uber. Passengers will see the added fees as part of the upfront fare displayed in the Uber app. That figure is based on Uber's estimation of how long it will take a driver to reach the user.

Riders may chafe at being charged extra, but Uber hopes the new fee will make it easier for customers to get a ride farther outside city centers. Because of the extra time involved, drivers were less interested in picking up passengers in the suburbs or on the outskirts of cities under the old fare system.

Uber also updated its cancellation fee policy so that fees are now based on time and the distance between driver and rider. Riders will now pay less if they request a ride and the driver does not respond in a timely fashion, while drivers will earn more if they have to drive a longer distance only to have the pickup cancelled.

One more policy that should benefit drivers is a fee for passengers that take longer than two minutes getting to the car. This idea was first tried in a pilot program in New York City, New Jersey, Phoenix, and Dallas. Specific fees will vary based on circumstances.

The new fee policies are part of an ongoing attempt to make life easier for drivers as Uber battles waves of negative publicity. Other new policies include tipping and limited messaging through the Uber app. Uber also promised to protect drivers from having their ratings lowered due to circumstances beyond their control, and launched a hotline for drivers in distress.