Uber has announced it will make various changes to how its drivers get paid, including adding an option for riders to tip their driver.
Tipping is available as of today in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston; the cities will serve as test markets that let the company "create the best tipping experience." Tipping will be available to all US drivers by the end of July.
Other significant changes include shortening the cancellation window—in which a rider can cancel without penalty—from five minutes to two minutes. Drivers will also begin to collect a per-minute rate for wait times if a rider keeps them waiting longer than two minutes after arrival.
Drivers will also be paid extra for teen account trips, including $2 added to the base fare.
The company calls the changes "major improvements that will make driving more flexible and less stressful, giving you [drivers] earnings and support you can depend on."
The changes will be launched city-by-city over the course of the summer. Uber says it will update the changes, which it has dubbed "180 Days of Change," on this page. The program is authored by Rachel Holt and Aaron Schildkrout, Uber's lead executives for US Operations and Driver Experience.
The addition of a tipping option brings Uber into line with the policy of Lyft, its most significant competitor, which has included a tipping option since its inception.
“We’ve heard you,” write Holt and Schildkrout. “You’ve told us what you want, and now it’s time we step up and give you the driving experience you deserve, because, simply put, Uber wouldn’t exist without you.”
Last week, Uber put into effect a series of changes recommended by an internal investigation. Those changes included firing some executives, and CEO Travis Kalanick has said he will take a leave of absence.
New York City's Independent Driver Guild was quick to declare a win on the tipping issue, which has long been at the top of the guild's list of demands.
“Today’s tipping announcement is an important win for drivers and proves that thousands of drivers coming together with one voice can make big changes," IDG founder Jim Conigliaro Jr. said in an e-mailed statement. “Cuts to driver pay across the ride-hail industry have made tipping income more important than ever. This is an important first step toward a more fair ride-hail industry.”