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Your Next Uber Ride Could Be 5x More Expensive

Your Next Uber Ride Could Be 5x More Expensive
Jennifer Billock

A new gig work law is in place in California that’s affecting Uber drivers; as a result, the company is introducing a number of changes that could alleviate the stress of the new law—most notably the opportunity for drivers to set their own rates and charge up to five times more than the normal fare.

A new California gig work lawthat made it more difficult for independent contractors to make a livingis having a big impact on ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. On Uber’s part, it’s trying to make some changes to make it easier for drivers to retain their autonomy and work within the law. The only problem is that Uber’s changes make things a little more difficult for the riders.

Rising Fares

Uber is testing out a feature in California that allows drivers to set their own prices. They can increase the expected final fare by 10% at a time until they reach five times the standard fare. That means drivers with the lowest prices will be snapped up first, and if you’re an unlucky person in a busier area, you’re going to get stuck with a higher fare because all the low ones are taken. As of now, according to The Verge, the increasing fares option is only available to drivers on airport routes in Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, and Sacramento. If it’s successful there, Uber will roll it out to the rest of California.

Upfront Information for Drivers

The rideshare giant has put a number of other changes in place this year as well. FlyerTalkers have been discussing the new ability for drivers to see your destination—including estimated time, distance, and fare—before accepting the ride. Plus, they can reject rides without penalty now. Forum members are split on whether this is a good thing, or whether it means Ubers are now basically just cabs.

No More Solid Pricing for Riders

It’s possible, thanks to this new policy, that you may not even know you’ve accepted a higher fare for an Uber ride until you actually finish the ride. This is because Uber now also shows a price range instead of a set fare when you’re requesting a ride. You may be on the low end or the high end. On the bright side, if you find a cheaper ride with an awesome driver, you can now favorite them for repeat requests, Thrillist reports.

View Comments (7)


  1. SpartyAir

    January 28, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    If fares go up, tips are going to go down. If prices go up too much, I will just call a taxi, because I can make a reservation for a particular time. and not have to worry that I can’t rely on the time an Uber driver can pick me up.

  2. SpartyAir

    January 28, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    The writer of this article doesn’t know math. The fare does not go up 5 times more expensive. On a $50 fare, going up five times more expensive would be $300 (that is base fare $50 and 5 times $50 which is $250 ,for a total of $300). My numbers are based on the article’s headline. It is unclear from the article what the increase will be. It says, “They can increase the expected final fare by 10% at a time until they reach five times the standard fare”. Are they going to be able to increase the fare by 10% five times or four times? Is the driver going to increase the initial price by 10% of the initial price, or are they going to increase the price 10% of the current price (the current price being the total including the previous increase added on)?

    In the text, the writer reports the fare will “reach five times the standard fare”. To increase the fare to be five times the initial fare, a $50 fare would calculate to $250. Based on the author’s faulty math, that would be four increases of 100% of the initial price..

    If the driver will be able to increase the fare at a10% rate of the current fare price, five increases to the fare comes to a 61.051% increase, equal to a fare of $80.53. If they increase the fare at 10% of the initial fare 5 times, the fare would be $75 (10% of $50 is $5, $50 + (5 x $5 = $25) = $75).

  3. jamesteroh

    January 29, 2020 at 8:52 am

    I’ve never understood how uber was able to classify their drivers as 1099 contractors when the driver couldn’t set the rate or knows the fare up front. A couple uber drivers had told me when they accept a ride they only know where the pick up is and the passengers ratings and don’t know the amount of the fare or the distance until after they accept the ride. Seems like it would be easier for Uber to just set the fare like it is now and treat the drivers as an employee instead of a 1099 contractor.

  4. jpr1953

    January 29, 2020 at 11:05 am

    What I did not like was the new UBER system at San Deigo Airport: You call for an UBER, you get a number, and then you hop on a line and wait!!!! Last Riday evening there were over 100 people on the UBER line. After I called for an UBER, I got my number, then saw the length of the line…a minute later I got a text from UBER telling me “Sorry, there are no UBER drivers currently available” – there was no line at the taxi cab, so I just jumped into the cab and was at the hotel 6 pr 7 minutes later. Amazingly, I got billed $16 by UBER. Not only did I not use the number I was issued, they texted that there were no cars available – yet they arrogantly bulled me $16. If this is the new system for UBER, they are absolutely no different to taxi cabs….and I am not going to line up with 100 people for an UBER….

  5. DCAFly

    January 30, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Is the same policy going to apply to Lyft?

  6. GrayAnderson

    February 1, 2020 at 4:57 am

    I think my biggest complaint with this is that I can’t turn around and set a maximum price within that range (e.g. if the range is $20-40, I’d like to be able to say “I won’t offer more than $30”) at the risk of drawing a goose-egg (or of the system saying “Lowest price is $35”, which I might or might not accept).

    @jpr1953: You might consider disputing that CC charge on the grounds that Uber said there were no rides available prior to you getting your taxi.

  7. htb

    February 6, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    I think only displaying a price range will turn away lots of potential customers. I don’t want to gamble when ordering a ride. Give me a price. Or give me the possibility to opt out once I see the real price.

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