Uber lets you book rides by the hour so you can run errands

Uber riders can now attend brunch with their friends, pick up their dry cleaning, go to the bank, and head back home all in one trip on the ride-hailing service.

The company announced a new hourly booking feature on Wednesday that allows riders to make unlimited stops during the hours booked for one flat fee. Users can reserve an Uber on-demand for up to seven hours. 

The hourly service is currently available on Uber Black, the company’s black car service, and Uber Premier, its luxury car service, in more than 1,000 cities and towns. Uber plans to make the option available in the summer for UberX, the service’s low-cost option, and expand to thousands more cities in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and India. 

Prior to the hourly feature, Uber riders had to book individual rides, which had a three-stop maximum. Uber also advised riders to keep each stop under three minutes or risk having the stop canceled. 

The new feature debuts as Uber tries to bring customers back to its service after the coronavirus pandemic devastated its ride-hailing business. Uber reported a 52% drop in ride revenue and a loss of $6.77 billion last year—an improvement over its $8.5 billion loss in 2019 in part due to the rapid growth of its food delivery service during the pandemic. The company has also been working to entice drivers back to its service after many left because of the lack of demand.

Uber said the price of the hourly service will be fixed but that it will vary by city, whereas the cost of a regular Uber ride with multiple stops is based on time, distance, and the amount of demand for rides during that time. The hourly service is available at all times of the day and night and can transport riders anywhere within Uber’s general service area. 

Uber also announced features that will help Uber riders do more while on their rides. For example, Uber passengers can now view restaurants on Uber Eats that are near their destination and order takeout while on the ride. They can then add a stop to their ride and pick up their food on the way to their final destinations. And Uber will prompt riders about items that may be on their to-do list. Riders coming from the airport may be asked if they want to start a grocery delivery order, for example. 

Uber users can also rent a car from companies like Avis, Budget, or Hertz through the app. Uber Rent is also offering a valet option in which Uber will deliver the rental car to the customer’s location and return it to the rental service when the customer is done.

Uber also debuted an Eats membership pass that will cost $9.99 monthly—$15 less than its main membership program Uber Pass. The Eats Pass, available in 16 countries, will give members free delivery from select restaurants, grocery stores, and on alcohol orders along with 5% off food orders. Beginning in May, Eats Pass members will also get select discounts on rides.

Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.

Read More

Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward