Uber is reportedly testing a new feature in San Diego that allows its drivers to accept new ride requests before they’ve even finished their current fare.
“Skip the wait and accept upcoming trips so you can go straight to your next ride,” Uber said in the email. Drivers get a chance to reduce downtime between trips. But Uber benefits too: it gets a sudden jump in driver supply, as drivers who otherwise wouldn’t show up as available on the app can now accept rides. That, in turn, lowers estimated pickup times for customers deciding whether to book a car.
Uber drivers in the test will now get an alert for a new rider while they are driving their current passenger around, the email said. The system only matches riders hoping to be picked up with drivers about to drop off passengers nearby, and only if the current passenger has entered a destination into the app. (Uber allows passengers to enter destination but doesn’t require it, and an Uber spokeswoman declined to say how often riders do so.)
So, it appears that Uber is looking to get more drivers on the road – not by contracting more drivers, but by allowing them to pull double duty and schedule rapid fire back-to-back rides.
Uber’s not the first on-demand ride company to try this (Sidecar), but it does raise some safety concerns – mainly forcing drivers to fiddle with accepting ride requests while still driving other passengers.
And Uber needs more safety concerns like it needs an arm growing out of its ass.