Uber Testing Traffic Estimates With Some Customers

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueicjESfEXg[/embedyt]

Uber, a ridesharing company, has started testing traffic estimates for its Android riders during the past few months and has recently expanded it to its iOS users, according to reports.

The feature has been live for all of Uber’s drivers and provides indicators of congestion based on the company’s own traffic information, which it culls from historic trip data on roughly 10 billion rides, coupled with real-time data from drivers’ phones. Traffic condition bars appear on the route map before a user hails a ride and could make them more tolerant of longer ETAs.

It could also stop riders from checking competing apps to see who will pick them up sooner. The traffic estimates could also prompt users to go with a non-car choice, such as an electric bike. Users could also purchase a public transportation ticket via the Uber app, thanks to new partnerships. Those type of rides are cheaper and require less labor for Uber.

The feature will remain in test mode until Uber ascertains if traffic estimates are helpful to customers. Currently, the feature works with unshared UberX, Black, XL, SUV and Taxi routes, but the long-term vision is to tell users the cheapest and quickest way to get somewhere — traffic estimates are important part of that.

Outside of this testing, Uber is facing a lawsuit that claims the ride-hailing company is misclassifying drivers in California as independent contractors in order to save money. According to a report in Bloomberg last week, the complaint alleges that Uber is able to avoid paying $9.07 an hour in expenses and benefits to drivers that they would get if they were treated as employees. The misclassification amounts to about $500 million. The lawsuit contends that Uber uses illegal labor savings to price the rides under what they actually cost so it can steal customers from rivals that treat drivers as employees.