Two days ago, Uber announced that they were reverting back to multiplier surge for Uber Drivers in Calfornia to address concerns from AB5. This is in conjunction with Uber removing upfront pricing in California. Upfront pricing hides the surge multiplier and shows you a set price, which prevents users from knowing exactly how much more expensive the ride is than normal.
How Does Uber Multiplier Surge Pricing Work?
When it was busy on Uber, Uber would set a surge multiplier for trips that originate in certain parts of the city, as seen on the Uber driver map. If the multiplier was 1.25x, the trip was 25% more expensive. If the surge multiplier was 2x, the trip was twice as expensive. Drivers used to get the same multiplier, so trips would pay twice as much if the surge multiplier was 2x.
The multiplier is based on the start of the trip regardless of where you are. You could be inside of the surge zone but get a request from outside the surge zone. This trip will not have any surge multiplier on it, which is very different from the flat rate surge pricing implemented last year. It will be very important to watch the surge multiplier for any trips you accept. You can be within a 2x surge zone and get a non surge trip, for example.
What are the issues with Uber Multiplier Surge Pricing?
The multiplier system favored very long rides and it was not as lucrative for short rides. This system incentivized drivers to ignore requests that were not long rides or drivers would accept trips and call the passenger to see where they are going. Also, some drivers would ignore specific parts of the city because they knew that passengers in that part of town would only go a short distance.
There would also be times where the surge pricing would only last a few minutes so very few drivers would actually get any trips with surge pricing. Some drivers try to chase the surge pricing, which rarely works. By the time drivers get to the surge zone, the surge pricing would often be gone.
I often accept the first or second request and keep driving on the Uber multiplier surge pricing. The time I spend trying to get the highest surge trip would normally not amount to higher earnings. There was no use trying to hunt for a surge price trip since it doesn’t happen that often in Boston. Back in the fall, afternoon rush hour would consistently generate surge pricing, but traffic was always a mess. It would take you 20 minutes to pickup a passenger so it was rarely worth the time to drive during afternoon rush hour.
How is Uber Multiplier Surge different from Flat Rate Surge
Below is Uber’s explanation of the differences between Flat Rate Surge and the Uber Multiplier Surge pricing.
We’ve heard from you that surge can be frustrating, so we’re introducing updates to make it a more reliable and consistent earning opportunity for drivers.
Here’s an overview of our discussions and answers to the main questions they asked.
- What’s changing about surge?
- How do I earn with the new surge?
- How will this change affect my earnings?
- How does surge work on long trips?
- Sometimes I don’t get surge on my next trip. Why is that?
- How does surge work for UberPool trips?
- Where can I see my surge earnings from UberPool trips?
- How do I give feedback about the new surge experience?
Back to basics: What is surge?There are times when so many people are requesting rides that there aren’t enough cars on the road to help them all. Bad weather, rush hour, and special events, for instance, may cause unusually large numbers of people to want to ride with Uber, all at the same time.
To make it worth your while to drive to these busy areas, we add dollar amounts on top of your fares for trips taken from there. These dollar amounts are shown on the map screen.
The dollar amounts on the map will increase in zones where there is a higher discrepancy between demand for rides and drivers in the zone. This is shown through the colors on the map and the dollar amounts you see.
You will see higher dollar amounts in the middle (or red zone) of the surge zones. These represent a higher volume of riders requesting. Dollar amounts are lower in surrounding zones where there are fewer riders requesting.
Is the Multiplier Surge Pricing Better or Worst?
After more than a year with the flat rate surge, I believe that the Multiplier Surge Pricing is better than the flat rate surge. Uber often charges rides one price while paying drivers another price, effectively lowering surge pricing for drivers and over-charging riders. This differential is often highest when surge is highest, which often lower driver earnings. It may be true that upfront pricing under charges riders during normal times, but I have seen my earnings reduce last year due to fewer surge trips and lower surge trips. The large surge priced trips have mostly disappeared while there are more normal priced trips, even during peak hours.Have more questions about Uber or Lyft? Head on over to our Rideshare Driver Training Course! Driver Promotions