fog.png
Monday December 9th, 2019 1:19PM

More legroom, less conversation for Uber riders who pay

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — Uber is letting passengers tell their driver in advance that they'd like a little less conversation, and more legroom, if those passengers are willing to pay.

The ride-hailing giant launched "comfort" rides in dozens of cities Tuesday. Riders are guaranteed 36 inches of legroom in "newer" cars — meaning those that are under five years old — and they can request a preferred air temperature. Riders can also use the app to tell drivers they don't want to chat, avoiding what some consider an awkward exchange.

Uber is responding to requests from business travelers and others who say they just want to work or rest quietly when they're on their way to the airport.

"It's a way to set up an expectation up front...it takes some guess work out of the process," said Aydin Ghajar, senior product manager at Uber.

In the early days of ride-hailing, when drivers for Uber and its main U.S. rival Lyft began picking up riders in their personal cars, riders were often chatty, asking the drivers lots of questions.

"It was so new and innovative that a lot of people were curious about other things they (drivers) did," said Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy, a blog and online community for drivers. "Over the years, it's gotten more transactional."

Uber rolled out a "quiet mode" for Uber Black — its premium car service — in May, which left some drivers feeling like robots.

"Some drivers like it, they don't want to have to look at social cues," Campbell said. "Other drivers feel that it's a little dehumanizing...I do feel like in our society, everything is turning into an app, and we're losing the lost art of conversation."

Comfort rides cost 20% to 40% more for time and distance charges than standard Uber X rides.

The move could help Uber boost revenue, which could nudge the company closer to profitability.

"I think it would help maybe to boost those numbers up a little bit and maybe give some of the analysts on Wall Street something more to hang their hat on to remain bullish on the stock, based on the fact that the company still is not profitable," said Daniel Morgan, vice president of Synovus Trust Company.

Uber has yet to turn a profit and lost $1 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Executives have said it could take years to make money.

It's unknown whether the benefits offered by Uber Comfort will be enough to convince riders to cough up more cash. A five-year-old car is not really "newer," it's more "middle aged," said Morgan. And at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, the additional legroom wouldn't really be enough for Morgan — but it might be sufficient for people who are average height, he said.

"They might try it once and see if it's that much more of an improvement and worth it," Morgan said. "If they can't deliver it and it's not that much more comfortable, then it's like well, I'm not really going to pay up for it."

Uber declined to provide an average age for its drivers' cars, and said age requirements for vehicles vary by city.

Uber already has some premium products that cost more than the basic Uber X. For example, Uber Black includes high-end cars driven by professional drivers. Families or groups of six can choose Uber XL to get a van or SUV. Uber Select connects riders with highly rated drivers. On the other end of the spectrum, Uber Pool is the cheapest option, but riders have to share the car with passengers going to other destinations.

Uber says its Uber Black product will generally cost more than Uber Comfort, but specific pricing will vary by city.

Drivers who qualify for can make about 20% more on an Uber Comfort ride than Uber X ride, said Uber spokesman Steve Imm. But some drivers earned less during an Uber Comfort pilot, because their cars qualified for the pricier Uber Select or Uber XL options, and they couldn't easily opt out of the Uber Comfort option, Campbell said. Drivers will now be able to opt out of UBER Comfort using the app, Imm said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
More legroom, less conversation for Uber riders who pay
Uber is letting passengers request a more comfortable ride if they're willing to pay with a new "comfort" service launched Tuesday
1:22PM ( 3 minutes ago )
France to slap new 'ecotax' on plane tickets from 2020
France will introduce a new charge on plane tickets from next year, with revenue used to fund environment-friendly alternatives, the country's transport minister said Tuesday
1:13PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Trump defends Acosta but will look into Epstein plea deal
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a growing collection of leading Democrats say President Donald Trump's labor secretary should quit
1:07PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot dies at 89
Self-made Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate H. Ross Perot has died
12:42PM ( 43 minutes ago )
The Latest: Manfred say MLB seeking answers on baseballs
The Latest: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says 'there is no evidence from the scientists that the ball is harder' but says 'the drag of the baseball is less.
12:39PM ( 46 minutes ago )
H. Ross Perot rose from poverty to self-made billionaire
H. Ross Perot rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty to become a self-made billionaire who twice ran for president with a mixture of folksy sayings and simple solutions to America's problems
12:27PM ( 59 minutes ago )
AP Business
Amazon, Microsoft wage war over the Pentagon's 'war cloud'
Amazon and Microsoft are battling for a $10 billion prize to build the U.S. military its first "war cloud."
10:37AM ( 2 hours ago )
EU fines Hello Kitty owner $7 million in antitrust ruling
EU antitrust authorities fine Japanese company behind Hello Kitty $7M for restricting cross-border sales
10:10AM ( 3 hours ago )
PepsiCo tops 2Q forecasts on strong snack sales
PepsiCo tops 2Q forecasts, but expects slower growth going forward
7:16AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
France to slap new 'ecotax' on plane tickets from 2020
France will introduce a new charge on plane tickets from next year, with revenue used to fund environment-friendly alternatives, the country's transport minister said Tuesday
1:13PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Trump defends Acosta but will look into Epstein plea deal
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a growing collection of leading Democrats say President Donald Trump's labor secretary should quit
1:07PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Trump lashes out at Britain's ambassador for a second day
U.S. President Donald Trump has lashed out for a second day at Britain's ambassador to the U.S., describing him as "wacky" and a "pompous fool," after a leak of emails critical of the American administration
1:00PM ( 25 minutes ago )
France will implement an 'ecotax' on plane tickets from 2020
The French government will implement an "ecotax" on plane tickets for flights departing from France from next year
12:57PM ( 28 minutes ago )
AP Exclusive: Nicki Minaj pulls out of Saudi Arabia concert
AP Exclusive: Nicki Minaj is pulling out of a concert in Saudi Arabia because she says she wants to show support for women's rights, gay rights and freedom of expression
12:52PM ( 33 minutes ago )