Anyone living in a major metropolitan area has experienced one or more of these during a commute: bus delays, subway delays, endless traffic. The results of these commuting nightmares? Stress, anger and reduced productivity at work. Uber has revolutionized the transport industry, allowing anyone with a car to become a transportation service for the community. The company, now valued at $51 billion, makes claims of making transportation “as reliable as running water.” Uber has gotten closer to achieving such a goal.
Uber has launced Driver Destinations, a new feature that lets drivers tell the app their route and can pick up passengers on the way, essentially making each Uber driver into a mini-bus. This also allows Uber drivers to pick up fares while going into the city or heading home, making their schedules more flexible. “For our partners, driving with Uber means having the freedom to set their own schedules. The reasons people drive are as diverse as the individuals themselves. Some drive to supplement existing income, others drive to save up for a vacation or to pay off a student loan—and when and where drivers choose to log onto to the Uber platform varies just as much,” said the press release.
This move benefits both Uber drivers and the company itself as a cost-efficient solution to long commutes. “Drivers mentioned that they have this need where they’re driving around town, and they’d be happy to pick up an extra rider along the way—but they need to go somewhere,” said Maya Choksi, senior product manager for Uber’s driver app.
Ride sharing in a large metropolitan area such as the Bay Area, which has 7.45 million people, has become increasingly complex. Reports estimate that the cost of commuting can add up into the tens of thousands of dollars annually (you can check how much your commute costs here) which includes gasoline, toll fees, parking fees, insurance premiums, finance charges, annual registration fees and more. While public transportation eliminates some of these fees, it still doesn’t account for the stress of the commute and the occasional unreliability of mass transit.
The app will pulse orange instead of blue for any kind of Uber trip, and it will match drivers to passengers along the direction of the driver’s destination, filterING passenger requests for trips to ensure that only those along the route will be targeted. WIRED also talks about Uber becoming more than just a passenger transportation service—they want to also bring packages, lunches and more across town. Driver Destinations could be integrated into that goal as well.
“Maintaining a commitment to simplicity in an increasingly complex environment is the ultimate design challenge,” said WIRED writer Jessi Hempel. The company is reportedly working on its own mapping software and self-driving cars as well, which could essentially make Uber the must-have app on any smartphone.
While Uber Driver Destinations is rolling out in the San Francisco Bay Area first, the company has announced that it will bring it to other large markets around the world. Lyft, Uber’s main ride sharing competitor, already has a similar feature. Bay Area commuters can have peace of mind knowing that their commutes will get a lot easier (and less expensive) with Driver Destinations.