Millions of people will be attending barbecues and fireworks activities in the U.S. on the Fourth of July. If you’re one of them, traveling to your festivities will likely be a hassle. But, the good news is, Uber, the multinational ride-sharing company, recently introduced an option where riders in the United States can book an hour-long trip.
This is the latest in the company’s series of offerings aimed at offsetting the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The company has also been offering a new hourly service in a few cities across the world, such as in Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
A Response to Decreased Demand
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in several public health protocols including social distancing. As a result, the demand for Uber’s ride-hailing services has significantly decreased. This has resulted in Uber’s doubling down on its other services including micro-mobility and food delivery, but it has also laid off many of its employees.
But there may be a silver lining! Many states are starting to ease their lockdowns and, thus, there may be a slight increase in the demand for ride-hailing services. Take note, nonetheless, that Uber and its competitors are unlikely to see the resumption of normal service levels, not even when the lockdowns have been lifted.
One of the reasons is that many cities are making way for bikers and pedestrians to use their main roads. There’s also the concern that ride-sharing services can be hotbeds of coronavirus infections considering the close quarters.
Uber’s new hourly service then effectively opens it up to new business opportunities. The company sees its new service being used for relocating to a new home, running errands around town, and perhaps sightseeing.
The new hourly service also follows Uber’s extensive safety program, which includes its distribution of millions of personal protective equipment (PPE). This was made in connection with its efforts to aid in the prevention of Covid-19 among drivers and passengers.
Flat Rate Imposed on the Ride
Under the hourly service, a rider/passenger enters a specific destination but can also enter three intermediate stops during the hour. The stops, furthermore, can also be changed during the hour-long journey. But it should also be noted that destinations and stops outside of the city where the rider and driver are currently located cannot be accommodated.
If a rider chooses Uber’s hourly tier, he has to pay $50 at a flat rate. This means that even if the actual ride lasts for less than 60 minutes, he will still pay $50. He can also pay the flat fee seven hours before the actual ride.
Every extra hour beyond the first hour will be charged $50 as well. Take note that the $50 hourly rate is exclusive of tolls and surcharges, not to mention that there’s a mileage limit for every booked hour. While the mileage limit varies between cities, the typical limit is 40 miles or so.
Any trip running over an hour will have an extra charge computed on a per-minute basis. In case of a trip going beyond the set mileage limit, the rider will also be charged for the extra miles on a per-mile rate.
Tip: Ask about the per-minute and per-mile rate in your city before making the final booking. You don’t want to be surprised about the extra charges, especially since $50 can be considered a premium rate.
Uber’s new service has gone live in a dozen cities: Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington D.C., Houston, Orlando, Miami, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Tacoma, and Seattle. The company has announced that it will offer the hourly booking service in more cities in the coming weeks.
These hourly bookings seem suitable for Uber since it opens up its market to a service that Zipcar and other similar companies previously offered. But Uber distinguishes itself from these businesses in two ways: first, by offering the services of a personal driver and, second, by offering said services at a significantly inflated price.
Uber’s initiative demonstrates the lengths it will take to survive and thrive in the changing times, particularly with the physical and social distancing measures in place. The hourly service is part of its overall program that includes a service where customers can have virtually anything they want to be delivered to their doorstep.
With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of letting up, these measures are necessary considering that Uber employs thousands of workers.
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