Uber has announced its plan to launch a new loyalty program called Uber Pro which would offer drivers a range of perks, including extra pay, car repair, discounted gas and even tuition-free college.
The ride-sharing service has long held a bad public reputation for its treatment of its drivers. CNBC released figures in 2017 which showed only 4% of drivers who signed on to Uber were still driving for the company a year later, with many choosing to leave for its main US competitor, Lyft.
Uber Pro appears to be Uber's solution to both its reputational and retentional issues. The program will divide drivers into four categories: Partner, gold, platinum and diamond, and will be based on a point system revolving around driver ratings and cancellation rates. For example, to make it into the top category, partner, drivers must maintain a rating of at least 4.85 and a cancellation rate no higher than 4%.
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All the categories have different benchmarks and each driver's status will be reassessed every three months, taking into consideration the points they have accumulated in that time. These points correlate with the rewards drivers earn such as 24/7 roadside assistance and cash back for fuel. Once drivers reach diamond and platinum status, they receive 3% and 6% respective increase in their pay and also become eligible for free online classes with Arizona State University which they can transfer to a family member if they so choose.
In response to some criticism that Uber was launching this program simply to incentivize drivers to work longer hours, head of driver product at Uber Daniel Danker told The Verge, "This is not just a program aimed at drivers who are driving 40 or more hours a week.
"Over half the drivers that are going to be in Uber Pro gold, platinum, or diamond drive less than 30 hours a week. This is really about recognizing commitment and quality across drivers, whether they drive a whole bunch or less," he added.
Uber will test launch Uber Pro partially in some locations and completely in others, before attempting to scale it up nationwide. 100% of drivers in Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, and Phoenix will have access to the loyalty program while 50% of drivers in Denver, New Jersey, Orlando, and Tampa will have access.