NEW YORK (AP) – Uber passengers can now get a more spacious ride and a less flashy driver – if they are willing to separate a few extra dollars.
The riding giant launched "comfort" rides in dozens of cities on Tuesday. Riders are guaranteed 36 inch legroom in "newer" cars – meaning those under five – and they can request a preferred air temperature. Riders can also use the app to tell drivers they do not want to chat, avoid what some consider a difficult exchange.
Uber responds to requests from business travelers and others who say that they will only work or rest quietly on their way to the airport.
"There is a way to set up an expectation ahead … it takes some guess to go out of the process," said Aydin Ghajar, senior product manager at Uber.
In the early days of driving, when the drivers of Uber and its largest American rival Lyft began picking up riders in their passenger cars, riders were often chatty and asked the drivers many questions.
"It was so new and innovative that many people were curious about other things they (drivers) did," said Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy, a blog and online community for drivers. "Over the years, it has become more transactional."
Uber rolled out a "quiet mode" for Uber Black ̵[ads1]1; its prime car service – in May, which allowed some drivers to feel like robots.
"Some drivers like it, they don't want to look at social signs," Campbell said. "Other drivers feel it's a bit dehumanizing … I feel like in our society, everything becomes an app, and we lose the lost context."
Comfort tours cost 20% to 40% more for time and distance costs than standard Uber X tours.
The move can help the Uber boost revenue, which could crush the company closer to profitability.
"I think it might help to raise these numbers a bit and maybe give some Wall Street analysts something more to hang their hat on staying bullish in stock, based on the company still not profitable," said Daniel Morgan. , Vice President of Synovus Trust Company.  Uber has not yet made a profit and lost $ 1 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Leaders have said it can take years to make money. by Uber Comfort, will be enough to convince the riders to cough up more money. A five-year-old car is not really "newer", it's more "middle-aged," Morgan said, and at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, The extra legroom doesn't really be enough for Morgan – but it may be sufficient for people who are average height, he said.
"They can try it once and see if it's much more of an improvement and worth it, says Morgan. "If they can't deliver it, and it's not that much more comfortable, then it's good, I'm not going to pay for it."
Uber refused to give an average age of car cars, and the age requirements for vehicles vary by city.
Uber's less competitive lift offers "Lyft Lux" ride, which is in high-end sedans or SUVs with leather seats and more legroom. Lux cars are powered by drivers with a 4.85 star rating or above, and cost more than a standard lift trip or the company's less expensive shared trip. But riders do not have the opportunity to ask for a quiet, talk-free trip.
Uber already has some premium products that cost more than basic Uber X. For example, Uber Black includes high-end cars powered by professional drivers and offers a "quiet mode." Families or groups of six can choose Uber XL to get a van or SUV. Uber Select connects riders with highly rated drivers. At the other end of the spectrum, Uber Pool is the cheapest option, but riders need to share the car with passengers going to other destinations.
Uber says the Uber Black product generally costs more than Uber Comfort, but specific prices will vary by city.
Drivers qualifying for can earn about 20% more on a Uber Comfort tour than Uber X-ri, said uber spokesman Steve Imm. But some drivers made less use of a Uber Comfort pilot, because their cars qualified for the Uber Select or Uber XL options, and they couldn't easily choose the Uber Comfort option, Campbell said. Drivers will now be able to opt out of Uber Comfort using the app, Imm said.