Uber UpFront Fares algorithm cuts some drivers' earnings

Released: February 2022

An Uber algorithm that allowed drivers in 24 cities across the US to see pay and destinations before accepting a trip resulted in lower overall earnings, and in Uber taking a bigger cut of fares.

Uber said its new Upfront Fare algorithm is based on 'several factors', including base fare, time and distance rates, and real-time demand at the destination, as opposed purely to time and distance, and that the new system is more transparent, gives drivers 'more control and choice', and that drivers are likely to make less money for longer trips but should earn more on shorter trips.

However, some drivers reported lower overall earnings since the introduction of Upfront Fares. Additionally, Uber appeared to be  taking a larger share of fares, although the exact reasoning behind this is unclear, according to The Markup.

Except California, where Uber started a similar programme in 2020, the company had resisted offering drivers the ability to see the fare and destination before accepting a trip on the basis that drivers may 'cherry-pick trips' or 'discriminate against riders in disadvantaged neighbourhoods'.

Operator: Uber
Developer: Uber
Country: USA
Sector: Automotive
Purpose: Determine pay
Technology: Pay algorithm
Issue: Employment - pay; Fairness
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: February 2022
Last updated: September 2023