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.