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Sunday, January 03, 2016

Taking the Freedom out of Flexibility: Back-to-Back Trips

Uber drivers have the luxury to drive whenever and wherever they like. A recent update in the Uber driver app is manipulating this freedom. Back-to-back trip requests are viewed by Uber as a way to decrease downtime and increase overall earnings. However, this update is hooking drivers to change their driving patterns.

Take for example, an Uber driver has been on the road for about 8 hours. They really need to take a restroom break, but this back-to-back trip feature keeps connecting them with new rides. All of a sudden, this driver is holding their bladder another 3-4 hours. Every single time this driver is planning to use the restroom, this feature is connecting them to another trip. Eventually, this driver has had enough and rejects the last request and shuts the driver app down.

We all know that acceptance rates are measured weekly, as well as cumulative. It is acceptable to reject a request (ignore), but if a driver is vying to complete a promotional period, they must be careful not to reject too many trips. Otherwise, the Uber driver may get disqualified for failing to meet the minimum acceptance allowed to qualify for promotions.

What if an Uber driver plans to stop driving after completing a trip? Well, this back-to-back trip feature compromises this effort. Ride-after-ride, trip-after-trip will hook this driver.

In honesty, this back-to-back trip feature is taking the freedom out of working whenever, wherever. Drivers have no control whether to accept a new ride, or not. Rather, this update is hooking and fishing for available vehicles while on current trips.

Uber drivers who need to use the restroom and/or must stop due to fatigue, the best way to opt out of this back-to-back trip feature is to reject a new request while on a trip and go offline as soon as a current trip ends. We don't know of any functions that will disable this feature.

This feature will also connect a rider to an Uber that is about to end, but is actually an ongoing trip to another destination. Many Uber clients use Uber to run errands, get food, pickup a friend and other special requests. The back-to-back trip feature may hook a requesting client to a trip on the verge of ending. However, this occupied Uber vehicle may complete additional drop-offs.  

Put the freedom back into ridesharing. Take control of your flexibility. Beware of this back-to-back trip feature that may connect drivers to new trips before a current ride is about to end.

How can we improve this back-to-back trip feature? First and foremost, give Uber drivers an option to disable this feature midway through an existing trips. Then, Uber drivers can choose to enable and/or disable this feature before going online.

Moreover, Uber can create multiple destinations for riders requesting more than a single drop-off. This function will alert the Uber platform to not connect a requesting client nearby this destination to an occupied Uber ride. It is presumed a ride will end, but the Uber driver has additional drop-offs to complete. Currently, the Uber system doesn't know this and thus attempts to connect requesting clients.

The most troubling fallback of this back-to-back trip feature is that we have requesting clients waiting for rides they don't see approaching them. Therefore, Uber clients are cancelling trips, losing valuable time and accumulating cancellation charges.

Uber on in 2016!