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In this photo illustration, the Uber app is displayed on a smartphone on March 20, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Credit: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
In the wake of its battle with Lyft to retain drivers until self-driving tech can take over, Uber will be trying out a new perk system for some of its top drivers in eight US locations.
The company announced Thursday it is rolling out the Uber Pro beta program for drivers in Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, Orlando, Tampa, Denver, and New Jersey, offering discounts on car-related services and better fares for some of the platform’s top-ranked drivers.
Drivers who quality for Uber Pro’s partner, gold, platinum, or diamond levels will be given access to discounted gas, car maintenance, better fares, and certain free online courses at Arizona State University (ASU) based on a point system that reflects drivers’ ratings from customers, cancellation rates, and number of rides during three-month periods.
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As The Verge reported, drivers will need to maintain a rating of at least 4.85 out of 5 to participate in the program, and a cancellation rate of 4% or lower. From the partner level, Uber Pro drivers will be entitled to 5% cash back on fuel any gas station and 6.5% at Exxonmobil stores, as well as 25% discounts on car maintenance through the online auto repair shop network Car Advise.
To gain gold, platinum, or diamond status, drivers will also have to accumulate points from every trip that ‘unlock’ rewards such as 24/7 roadside assistance, fuel and maintenance discounts through Uber partners, and certain free online courses for themselves or family members. Uber says it hopes to roll out the program nationwide in 2019, and then worldwide at a later date.
According to The Verge, platinum and diamond drivers who have driven more than 3000 rides will qualify for free online ASU courses in English and entrepreneurship, which they can choose to transfer to a family members. Platinum and diamond drivers can also qualify for 3% and 6% bumps to their time and distance fares, respectively, while diamond drivers get faster access to desirable airport fares.
The Uber Pro beta program will reward certain high-performing drivers with financial perks and free online courses at Arizona State University. (Credit: Uber Technologies Inc.)Uber Technologies Inc.
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If drivers’ ratings fall below 4.85, they will reportedly be given a chance of some kind to recover their status in the program, but a rating of 4.75 or lower will disqualify them. Uber traditionally hasn’t said what the drivers’ average rating from customers is, but told BuzzFeed.News that an overall rating of 4.85 is “really achievable for these drivers.”
As BuzzFeed.News reported, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Arizona State University president Michael Crow heralded the beta program’s launch this week in a joint op-ed for the Arizona Republic. Among other things, Khosrowshahi and Crow argued, “The challenge for today’s leaders in academia, business and government is to ensure the benefits of technological progress are felt by all.”
They also emphasized their hope that Uber Pro and its partnership with ASU will provide “a model of how business and academia can leverage knowledge, technology and scale to help more people gain the skills they need to advance in their lives, serve their families and communities, and contribute to the betterment of society.”
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In recent weeks, Uber has rolled out a number of new initiatives and strategies aimed to steel it against competition from Lyft, Amazon, and other wide-reaching tech companies.
On Tuesday, the company announced the launch of its new Ride Pass program, which gives riders discounted fares in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. The prior week, Uber said it plans to expand its Uber Eats service to cover 70% of the US population, and on Thursday, the ride-hail giant also launched its new Eats for Business program.
In a blog post, Uber Product leads Sunil Parekh and Ali Wiezbowski wrote that the program is intended to reward Uber’s “most dedicated driver-partners.” They also stated, “Uber’s mission is to ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion. For drivers, this means we are always working to provide more opportunities for them to get ahead.”
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[h/t The Verge]