In an email sent to UberX Seattle drivers, the company notes a new “Safe Rides Fee,” that takes effect today.
“Starting today, we’ll showcase our continued commitment to safety with a dedicated $1 Safe Rides Fee, paid for by riders,” the letter reads.
Uber said that the new fee, which applies nationwide, will support the company’s costs related to “background checks, ongoing safety monitoring, education, insurance and safety features.” This new fee is for UberX — which lets everyday drivers shuttle people around town — and not for the more expensive UberBLACK service, which uses professional chauffeurs.
Uber is also reinstating the 20 percent commission it takes from UberX drivers per ride. It was only taking five percent from drivers for the past few months in several cities nationwide while it also dropped prices for passengers. But Uber was losing money on each trip, so now, the company will again take 20 percent from drivers starting on April 23.
“The good news is that partners have been doing so many trips per hour at the new prices that even after this change, partners will be making more earnings than even during the December peak,” the email notes. “This level of earnings on uberX will continue to be the highest in the industry.”
To “ease the transition,” Uber will be giving $1 to drivers for every trip they complete until August 31. Here’s how the new pricing breakdown looks — notice that Uber does not include the $1 “Safe Rides Fee” into the driver’s earnings.
UberX currently charges $1.63 per mile and $0.30 per minute in Seattle, along with a $2.14 base fare and a $6 minimum fee. It reduced its prices by up to 34 percent in 16 cities back in January.
Earlier this month, Lyft — Uber’s biggest competitor — announced it would decrease rates for passengers by up to 20 percent in each of its 30 cities and temporarily stop taking a 20 percent commission from drivers as the company tests out the lower rates for riders. It’s worth noting that Lyft also has a similar $1 fee for “Trust & Safety.”
Both companies are set to be regulated in Seattle after the City Council voted last month to cap the number of vehicles that services like UberX and Lyft can have on the road to 150 — a limit that Uber, along with Lyft, has expressed disappointment with. But those regulations could be suspended and put up for a city-wide vote if a coalition group can collect enough petition signatures by April 18.
Update, April 18: Uber penned this blog post about the new $1 fee. Here’s what it says:
From the beginning, we’ve always been committed to connecting you with the safest rides on the road. Starting this week, we’ll demonstrate that continued commitment to safety with a dedicated $1 Safe Rides Fee added to uberX fares in United States cities with uberX ridesharing. For complete pricing transparency, you’ll see this as a separate line item on every uberX receipt.
This fee supports the increased costs associated with our continued efforts to ensure the safest platform for Uber riders and drivers. Those include an industry-leading background check process, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education, current and future development of safety features in the app, and insurance.
The whole Uber team is committed to continue innovating, refining, and working diligently to ensure Uber is always the safest experience on the road. If you have feedback, questions, or concerns, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.