Uber CEO Travis Kalanick
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

SAN FRANCISCO– Uber Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick knows that the ride-sharing company’s infamous surge pricing is a hard sell, but he thinks it’s a preferable experience to standing out on the sidewalk waiting for a taxi. Still, he thinks that Uber could do better when it comes to communicating that.

“One of our goals for 2014 is bringing humanity to our communications,” he said at the Launch Festival in San Francisco today.

As a part of that initiative, Uber will be adding a new feature to its mobile app that will send users a push notification when pricing has come back down to normal following a surge if they’re looking for a ride. That way, if a user is looking to grab a ride home from the bar, they could grab another pint while they wait for the price to come down after a night on the town.

The new feature should be helpful for both Uber and budget-conscious consumers. People who would be more likely to choose another transportation provider like Lyft or Sidecar could be more likely to wait and stick with Uber without their ride costing an arm and a leg.

Kalanick said that most surges come and go fairly quickly, especially because they cause drivers to move into an area where surges are happening, and keep drivers who might leave an area on the road.

At a time when Uber’s critics point to the company’s surge pricing as a reason that the company needs more regulation, the new feature could help matters in jurisdictions like Seattle that are looking to impose tighter regulations.

Meanwhile, though surge pricing grabs headlines, Kalanick said that the Uber’s work to bring down the price of a ride during non-surge periods means that some people are turning to his company as a way to commute or get around, even when they’d usually look to a bus or train.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re starting to compete with public transportation,” Kalanick said.

Comments

  • Guest

    Thank you, Uber, for making my ride less expensive. This is great news for men like myself who don’t “go with the flow.”

  • Slaggggg

    I frankly love surge pricing. It makes complete sense, if people would just get over themselves.
    I’d much rather be asked “do you want to pay more” and decide yes or no, then have to wait a lot longer for a ride.
    A lot of the surge monies is going to the drivers, to incent them to be out when rides are most needed.
    Logic dictates that surge pricing is awesome.

    • Sami Eritrea

      you are wrong….how is a lot of the $$ goes to the drivers? in fact, customers are irritated and in a rush,which leads to a bad rating for drivers…get ur facts together

  • EconFTW

    “At a time when Uber’s critics point to the company’s surge pricing as a reason that the company needs more regulation.” These critics are “economics deniers.”

    Price is the most effective form of dealing with scarcity.

    Take the Hurricane Sandy where the governors of Jersey and New York (R and D respectively) came down hard on gas stations for any price changes. If you have a million people trying to leave the city, allowing a gas station to charge $25 a gallon means that people will only put 2 gallons of gas in their car so they can get farther outside the city, then fill up at lower prices. For a fixed, limited, supply of gasoline, this means there are 600% more people able to put a couple gallons in their tank than if prices were “regulated” and the cars who got their first filled up completely.

    It also properly compensates gas station owners who will lose 3-10 days of sales from having to be closed for the duration of the storm.

  • Chris

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  • Heather Arias

    I have used both Uber and Lyft. I find that Lyft drivers are so much nicer. It’s more than just a ride. And it’s still cheaper than UberX.

    If you haven’t taken your first ride with Lyft yet, enter promo code “PROMO1″ for $20 credit.

    • Slaggggg

      Wow sounds like you are completely unbiased!

    • cheng

      hmm. fake profile pic and name, check. constant promos for lyft on uber posts, check.
      Shill confirmed.

      • Heather Arias

        haha not a fake profile

        • cheng

          fake profile or not, you should really ask your bosses at lyft to change their marketing strategy and give you a more useful job. Pepsi never succeeded by trash talking Coke.

          • Anon Techie

            Like Uber, Like Lyft. I hate the promo code posters equally. Just go take a look at iOS app store reviews. Filled with spam

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    With all that surging money, you would think that UberX could actually require that their taxis carry insurance.

    http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2014/01/20/ride-sharing-insurance-lyft-uberx-sidecar/

  • ANON DESI

    Create an artificial price point called Surge Pricing, which acts as a great Price Anchor (playing with your cognitive bias)

    Rope in surge haters by sending push notifications.

    Imagine if the same notifications were sent without the existence of surge pricing! The same push notifications would be referred to as abusive (of the push notification feature) or as annoying ads.

    Great great Behaviour Modelling by Uber.

    (I don’t think I’d fall for this gimmick though ;)

    • Ed O

      So there are two scenarios here:

      1. I need an Uber. I summon one. I pay normal rate.
      2. I need an Uber. Surge pricing is in effect. I choose to wait and ask for Uber to let me know when it’s done. I wait and it lets me know. I summon one. I pay normal rate.

      How is that a gimmick?

      • Anon Techie

        Price Anchoring = Gimmick. I didn’t mean to use gimmick in a pejorative way. This is going to be an amazing feature from Uber’s perspective, since they can gauge how much it really hurts/helps their bottom-line to keep Surge Pricing alive.

        I just hope that one subscribe to be notified, then its super cool. It’ll be irritating if there is no way to opt out of those notifications though.

        • Ed O

          I totally agree with that: just like you can say “no” to surge pricing now, you should have to say “yes” to getting notified.

          If Uber uses this as an excuse to mass txt anyone who’s looking for a ride, then the company will tick people off.

  • Guest

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