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Uber introduces new app features to appease drivers

Mon 6 Jun 2016

Uber driver

Ride-hailing giant Uber has announced a series of app updates and new features aimed at keeping its drivers sweet as complaints mount around how the company treats its ‘workers’.

From this month, the San Francisco-based firm will allow its drivers to stop the clock without being penalised, find cheaper gas, process payments quicker, and have greater control over trip destinations. A new rewards system has also been devised through which drivers can receive discounts for rides when they use the service as a passenger.

The current system had faced scrutiny for its treatment of drivers, when compared with ‘driver-friendly’ Lyft. Previously, before finishing a shift Uber drivers had to manually decline each trip request until they dropped off their last customer. The update now enables drivers to pause incoming requests before signing out.

Passengers will also be charged from two minutes following the arrival of the driver to better compensate driver wait times. While driving, the driver can check the Uber app for local gas stations and compare prices. The company suggested that it is looking into rolling out schemes whereby gas stations could offer discounts in exchange for in-app promotions – a system already applied in Google’s navigation app Waze.

The move comes as Uber seeks to compensate drivers amid growing criticism. A drastic cutting in fares in January saw the company drop prices in 80 North American cities in an effort to increase demand in a typically slow month. While Uber argued lower fares should attract more riders and therefore trips per hour, many drivers complained that this promise did not become a reality.

One other recent case saw a group representing 5,000 drivers in New York City file a lawsuit against Uber, claiming that the company is depriving its drivers of employment protection. This is a familiar story for Uber which continuously comes against suits wanting recognition for drivers as employees, not independent contractors, and entitlements to minimum wage, overtime and reimbursement for expenses.

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