Uber riders can now pick precise pickup spots, ask drivers to choose a different route

Jun 9, 2021

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The feature Uber riders probably want most right now is a return to pre-pandemic pricing. In many markets, fares have jumped considerably over the last few months — personally, I’ve been giving most of my ride-share business to Lyft, which consistently wins the pricing battle each time I comparison shop before I request a pickup.

At least in part, that’s an issue of supply and demand — in some cases, there are more riders than drivers, and the app automatically adjusts pricing up so the riders who are willing to pay higher prices get matched with a car.

Wednesday, Uber announced two new features — and no, sadly they don’t have anything to do with lower fares. Still, they’re intended to help improve the pick-up and en-route experience, while hopefully freeing up drivers to get to their next customers more quickly in the process.

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The first is what Uber’s calling “Side of Street,” and it functions exactly as the name implies. Rather than seeing a random pick-up pin location, drivers will be able to see exactly which side of the street their rider is standing on, potentially trimming off several minutes of searching or “looping around” on busy streets.

(Screenshot courtesy of Uber)

As Uber explains, with this change, “drivers will now be shown what side of the street the rider is on as well as a descriptive landmark to clearly decipher the rider’s location.”

Related: An Uber driver talks how to be a better traveler

Perhaps even more exciting, once you’re actually in the car, drivers will now have a choice of three routes they can use to get you to your destination. The driver app will also “predict traffic congestion” when identifying ideal routes. Hopefully, that’ll help minimize the risk of getting stuck in unnecessary traffic if you end up with a driver who insists on following Uber’s built-in navigation.

I’m definitely pleased to see that Uber’s making an effort to eliminate some long-time pain points — while the impact may be marginal, any action that helps free drivers up more quickly is a win for riders, drivers and the platform alike.

Featured photo by Hrach Hovhannisyan / Shutterstock.com

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