Uber announced a series of changes to its platform Tuesday intended to please drivers amid a major shakeup at the company. The biggest switch is riders will soon have the ability to tip their drivers directly within the app, a feature that Uber has resisted for years.
Buried in Uber's announcement—which is the first installment of a six month campaign it's calling 180 Days of Change—is an adjustment to the way that its new Teen Accounts program works: Uber will now be sharing proceeds from it with its drivers. Uber is currently testing the feature in three cities: Seattle, Columbus, and Phoenix.
If you have a teen account, the extra $2 added to the base fare of your ride will now be shared with your driver, which was not the case previously. Uber drivers had complained that they were not compensated more for teen account trips. We've reached out to Uber for further clarification on exactly how Uber will be splitting the proceeds from teen trips.
Motherboard's very own teen, intern Caroline Haskins, is not surprised by the move. "So, so, so many people my age are completely rude and disrespectful to Uber drivers," she told me over Slack. "Plus there's frequent property damage that they don't pay for. I've always kinda wondered why the company doesn't treat teens differently tbh."
Uber also announced that drivers will receive a cancellation fee if they have to wait for passengers for more than two minutes, down from five minutes previously. Drivers will earn a per-minute fee if they are required to wait more than two minutes.
Uber also introduced driver injury protection insurance, which is an interesting move from a company that has repeatedly resisted admitting that its drivers are employees, arguing they should remain seen as independent contractors. That classification prevents Uber from having to provide benefits like health insurance and paid sick leave.
The most noteworthy change though is the ability to tip within the app itself. Last year, the company said it felt "it would be better for riders and drivers to know for sure what they would pay or earn on each trip—without the uncertainty of tipping."
Uber reversed that statement, and will now begin offering in-app tipping in three cities to start: Houston, Minneapolis, and Seattle. The feature will roll out to all U.S. drivers by the end of next month.
Correction: This article originally stated that Uber introduced a $2 surcharge for teenage riders today as part of its 180 Days of Change. Uber in fact started testing the surcharge and teen account program in March. The change Uber announced today was that it will now share a portion of that surcharge with drivers. Motherboard regrets the error.