Uber UpFront Fares driver pay algorithm

February 2022
Updated: March 2022

Reuters reports that Uber is testing a new algorithm that allows drivers in 24 cities across the US to see pay and destinations before accepting a trip and encourages drivers to take short rides at peak times.

Uber says its new Upfront Fare algorithm is based on 'several factors', including base fare, time and distance rates, and real-time demand at the destination. It also states that, 'in general', fares on short trips will go up whilst those on long trips will decrease.

However, some drivers say the new algorithm results in lower overall earnings, and that Uber appears to be taking a bigger cut of fares, according to The Markup.

Mixed transparency

Human and civil rights advocates worry the opacity of algorithmic fare calculations, notably the inability to verify how these system work and the impacts they have, means it is very hard to hold gig worker companies such as Uber to account.

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'.

Uber is trying to encourage more drivers to sign up having lost many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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