sunny.png
Thursday October 17th, 2019 1:59PM

Uber offers riders more legroom, less chatting at a price

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — Uber passengers can now get a more spacious ride and a less talkative driver — if they're willing to shell out a few extra dollars.

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's smaller rival Lyft offers "Lyft Lux" rides, which are in high-end sedans or SUVs with leather seats and more legroom. Lux cars are driven by drivers with a 4.85-star rating or above, and cost more than a standard Lyft ride or the company's less-expensive Shared ride. But riders do not have the option of requesting a quiet, conversation-free ride.

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 and offers a "quiet mode." 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.
Boiler explosion triggered natural gas blast at Nevada dorm
Nevada's state fire marshal says a small explosion in a basement boiler at a University of Nevada, Reno dormitory caused a natural gas leak that triggered a much larger blast last week, severely damaging two dorms and injuring eight people
4:40PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Artists' warehouse founder: City visited, had no complaints
The founder of an artists' collective in an Oakland, California warehouse that caught fire two years ago, killing 36, said Tuesday that police, fire and other officials who visited his home never said it might be a fire hazard
4:38PM ( 16 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
4:36PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Finalists in UK leader vote trade Brexit barbs
The two men vying to be Britain's next leader have traded verbal blows during a televised debate over which of them is more likely to deliver a successful exit from the European Union
4:05PM ( 48 minutes ago )
Disclosure: Biden earned millions after leaving White House
Joe Biden is releasing his presidential financial disclosure, which shows that the former vice president earned millions of dollars, including more than $2.7 million for book deals and speaking engagements over the past year and a half
4:03PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Konta bristles at reporter after Wimbledon loss
Johanna Konta didn't appreciate having her performance questioned after losing in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon
3:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
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 hours ago )
From Nazis to hippies: End of the road for Volkswagen Beetle
Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its classic Beetle model in July at its plant in Puebla, Mexico
12:02PM ( 4 hours ago )
Space-tourism biz Virgin Galactic going public after merger
Richard Branson's space-tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, will go public, creating the first publicly listed human spaceflight firm
10:51AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Activists worry about potential abuse of face scans for ICE
Civil rights activists are complaining about the potential for abuse following confirmation that at least three states have scanned millions of driver's license photos on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
11:10AM ( 5 hours ago )
Twitter bans 'dehumanizing' posts toward religious groups
Twitter will now prohibit hate speech that targets religious groups using dehumanizing language
11:09AM ( 5 hours ago )
Facebook US data transfer case goes to Europe's top court
Legal battle between Austrian privacy campaigner, Facebook over data transfers goes to Europe's top court
7:47AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Technology News
Boiler explosion triggered natural gas blast at Nevada dorm
Nevada's state fire marshal says a small explosion in a basement boiler at a University of Nevada, Reno dormitory caused a natural gas leak that triggered a much larger blast last week, severely damaging two dorms and injuring eight people
4:40PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Artists' warehouse founder: City visited, had no complaints
The founder of an artists' collective in an Oakland, California warehouse that caught fire two years ago, killing 36, said Tuesday that police, fire and other officials who visited his home never said it might be a fire hazard
4:38PM ( 16 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
4:36PM ( 17 minutes ago )
With 19 aces, gutsy comeback, Serena reaches Wimbledon semis
Serena Williams dealt with an injured ankle and a third-set deficit before coming back to beat Alison Riske in the Wimbledon quarterfinals
4:30PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Hoverboard fire lawsuit against Amazon can move forward
A Tennessee family's lawsuit against online retailer Amazon over a hoverboard fire that destroyed their home can move forward
4:28PM ( 26 minutes ago )