Uber & # 39; s $ 1 per ride "safe ride costs" had nothing to do with safety

Uber imposed a $ 1 surcharge per ride in 2014, calling it a "Safe Rides Fee," but it was just a game of making a profit. The money that the company has collected from the allowance – estimated at around $ 500 million – was never specifically reserved for safety and was "initially conceived to add $ 1 pure margin to each trip," said a fragment from New York Times reporter Mike Isaac & # 39; s new book Super Pumping: The Battle for Uber.


At the time, Uber was faced with rising costs of insurance and background checks, so the company came up with the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčintroducing a security surcharge to increase margins. In the meantime, the actual safety program consisted of no more than a short video course for drivers. Only years later did Uber start adding safety features to his app, such as an emergency button to call 911.

The costs for safe journeys varied from market to market, but they generally amounted to some money and some change. In San Francisco, drivers paid $ 1.35 per ride. Philadelphians paid $ 1.25, while Los Angeles riders paid $ 1.65. Uber said the fee was intended to pay for operational safety-related costs such as marketing, driver screening, incident response, and technology upgrades. The company claimed that it was necessary to charge drivers a separate fee to prevent it from being affected by peak prices.

But according to Isaac's book, that was all hokum. "We increased our margins by saying that our journeys were safer," a former employee told him. "It was obscene." (A Uber spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Riders tackled quickly. Two class action lawsuits were brought against Uber in 2016, alleging that the driving hail company had incorrectly sold its safety record to passengers. The colors were eventually settled for $ 28.5 million – a fraction of the amount The New York Times estimates that Uber could come in.

As part of the settlement, Uber agreed not to use certain language in the marketing itself, such as "safest ride on the road" and "gold standard in safety." It was also required to change the name of the surcharge of & # 39; safe journey costs & # 39; to & # 39; booking fee & # 39 ;. These costs are still on the account of every passenger today.