- Uber announced it is expanding its driver rewards program to 20 new U.S. cities and will soon bring it abroad to be piloted in Mexico.
- The program, previously available in just 10 cities, offers rewards like discounted gas, repairs and cash back deals. High-earning drivers are also eligible for tuition coverage for online classes from Arizona State University toward a four-year degree or non-degree program for themselves or a family member.
- The benefits will be expanded to drivers in New York City, although the company has recently stopped accepting applications for new drivers in the city, as reported by Politico. The hiring freeze, also instituted by Lyft, comes in response to the city’s driver pay regulations.
Uber’s IPO filing has brought new attention to how it pays and rewards drivers, who remain classified as independent contractors and not employees. In its filing, Uber wrote that drivers “can choose whether, when, and where to provide services on our platform, are free to provide services on our competitors’ platforms, and provide a vehicle to perform services on our platform." Governments and labor advocates, however, have questioned that designation, leading to protests and new rules.
Concern about take-home pay led New York to pass first-in-the-nation rules last summer, instituting a minimum wage of $17.22 an hour for Uber and Lyft drivers. Those rules led to Uber and Lyft putting a freeze on new drivers, since they favor having fewer drivers on the road spending more time with passengers. Other cities, including Seattle and San Francisco, could impose their own minimum wage rules.
Uber Pro followed a flurry of driver improvements, including tipping for drivers and increased payments for picking up riders far outside of their route. In a blog post, Uber head of driver product Daniel Danker, said the rewards program recognizes drivers “for their commitment and quality.” To enter, drivers must maintain at least a 4.85 rating and a cancellation rate of 4% or lower, and can advance through tiers to earn better rewards. The top tier includes the ASU benefits; according to Uber, 25% of the enrollees in the online classes have been family members of drivers.
The 20 new cities that will get Uber Pro are: Atlanta; Austin, TX; Baltimore; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Las Vegas; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; Nashville, TN; New York; Orange County, CA; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Sacramento, CA; Salt Lake City; San Francisco; St. Louis; Los Angeles; Raleigh-Durham, NC; and Richmond, VA. Pro was previously available in Boston; Chicago; Washington, DC; Denver; New Jersey markets; New Orleans; Phoenix; Orlando, FL; Seattle; and Tampa, FL.