Drivers for Uber can now get paid the usual amounts for their mileage and time on pickups that take a long time to get to, allowing them to venture further out of their normal purview to drive in less-serviced areas. The new Long Pickup Fee reportedly kicks in between the 8 minute mark and the 11 minute mark, and will charge users an extra fee if it takes a driver a while to reach them. This fee is separate from all other charges, and appears as such on the customer's statement after a ride. This feature should activate in all US states by December of 2017, but only uberX and POOL drivers will be able to take advantage; rides done under special circumstances, LUX, BLACK, and ASSIST will not garner an extra fee for long pickup trips.
While the fee seems punitive to users who are outside of large urban areas and may not have many Uber drivers near them, the point is to incentivize drivers to head out further to get riders who may otherwise have a longer wait or no options, and to encourage drivers who actually live in underserved areas to simply grab any nearby fares instead of having to head out to a larger and more populous part of town first.
This initiative is part of 180 Days of Change, a push by Uber to make substantial changes in the way drivers approach their work. The push comes in the wake of a large-scale cultural shakeup, and consists of a number of small and large changes to policies concerning driving for Uber, some of which actually work hand in hand with the Long Pickup Fee announced today. One example of that is Driver Destinations, a system that lets drivers set up to 2 destinations per day. When heading to these destination points, drivers will only be presented with fares that aren't a very big diversion, or are right along their route. There are also changes to the way that ride cancellation fees work, charging customers for an Uber driver's time and distance if they cancel after the driver has already committed time and gas to the pickup. With just these three initiatives, driving for Uber in an underserved area and commuting from a smaller area to a large metropolitan district both become far more favorable options for drivers.