One criticism my friends have had of Uber, the car sharing service, is that you cannot schedule trips ahead of time. They have a fear that cars won’t be available when they want to leave for the airport, so they’d rather schedule a ride with a taxi or a car service.
But Uber is now rolling out a new feature–you can schedule trips up to 30 days in advance with Scheduled Rides for UberX cars.
This feature has already been available in a few cities since June, but Uber is widening its scope. It’s arriving in the DC area now.
You can schedule a ride up to 30 minutes before the time you want to leave. You can also cancel. According to WAMU’s radio report, it will also alert you if your ride is subject to surge pricing.
According to WAMU’s blog post on the subject (which I pulled up after hearing the radio piece in the car):
“It is something that people have been asking for, especially our business travelers,” said Tom Hayes, Uber’s D.C. general manager. In an official announcement expected on Thursday morning, Uber says customers will be able to “select uberX and tap ‘Schedule a Ride,’ set your pickup date, time, location, and destination, confirm the details of your upcoming trip and tap ‘Schedule uberX.’”
Customers will receive an estimated fare when booking the ride, but if it increases by the time of the pickup due to surge pricing, they will be able to cancel without penalty.
“Right as the ride is coming, you will get another fare estimate based on current conditions but you will be able to cancel within five minutes for no fee if you are not happy with it,” said Uber’s Hayes.
Taxi cabs, as you would expect, are not happy about this development. The drivers interviewed on the radio station said that this feature turns Uber more into a “dispatch” service, which sounds (in their opinion) more like a taxi cab company.