SINGAPORE: Uber has launched a series of changes to provide its drivers with more flexibility, in a move seemingly aimed at curbing competition from Grab, which is on a mission to build the "largest and most advanced" taxi and private-hire car fleet in Singapore.
From Thursday (Nov 9), Uber will remove the 80 per cent trip acceptance requirement that drivers need to meet in order to qualify for incentives, taking the pressure off them to work long hours.
Drivers will also be able to specify their preferred destinations up to twice a day, as well as input an arrival time for their destination, allowing the system to allocate jobs that match the drivers’ schedules.
Another new feature is a “long trip notification”, which gives drivers a heads-up if a trip is estimated to take more than 30 minutes, allowing them to choose the trips that work for them.
Uber is also introducing a cancellation timer in its app that will help the driver keep track of the time they have spent waiting for their ride before the start of a trip.
If a passenger cancels more than five minutes after a driver accepts the trip, the timer will indicate that the driver is eligible for the cancellation fee.
The changes were introduced based on feedback from drivers, who have indicated their desire for autonomy and control over their lives, Uber said.
“Drivers are tired of words. They want action, and we are turning the page by committing to meaningful changes that address their needs,” Uber said in an email to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday.
Uber’s campaign comes amid fierce competition from Grab, which last month announced it had secured debt facilities of US$700 million and signed a new and exclusive partnership with SMRT that will help it build the "largest and most advanced" taxi and private-hire car fleet in Singapore.
Grab has also been trying to woo drivers from Singapore's largest taxi company ComfortDelGro and in September announced what it called "huge rental discounts” for the cab drivers.