Uber Tests Lower Fares for Riders Who Are Willing to Wait

Only certain Uber employees have access to the feature.

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Uber prices get higher as demand increases, but they also decrease as that demand trails off. The ride-hailing company is testing a feature that lets customers take advantage of that by telling them when fares are expected to get lower. That lets riders who are willing to wait find themselves cheaper fares.

Uber hasn't publicly announced the feature, but Quartz spotted an Uber employee's tweet showing a screenshot of it. That tweet was later deleted, but an Uber spokesperson confirmed the feature's existence to Quartz. However, it's unclear if regular Uber customers will ever be able to use it.

Only Uber employees in San Francisco and Los Angeles currently have access to the feature as part of ongoing testing. The company hasn't decided whether to release it publicly; that likely depends on the results of the current tests. Either way, ride-hailing companies are likely to continue to offer cheaper fares to customers willing to sacrifice some convenience.

Earlier this year, Uber launched the Express Pool carpooling service, which asks riders to walk to a central location for pickup in exchange for lower fares. The goal was to make things a bit easier for Uber drivers, who don't have to make multiple stops as with the previous UberPool service. Last year, rival Lyft began offering lower fares to customers willing to walk to more convenient pickup locations for individual rides.

Maximizing convenience for passengers often means making someone else's life less convenient. Being able to summon a car to any location is great, but a driver has to be able to reach that location. Periods of peak demand also increase the number of cars on city streets. By offering lower fares for less-convenient service, ride-hailing companies are attempting to address that imbalance.