A new California law is changing up how much your future Uber ride might cost.

Employee classification rules for gig workers in California, known as AB5, are forcing companies like Uber to give drivers more control over certain parts of the job. Earlier this month, Uber added a favorite driver feature and price estimates instead of upfront pricing. Now, a test scheme is taking shape to let drivers set the price of your ride.

In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said, “Since AB5 has gone into effect, we’ve made a number of product changes to preserve flexible work for tens of thousands of California drivers. We’re now doing an initial test of additional changes which would give drivers more control over the rates they charge riders.”

That test is starting this week at only three small airports in Santa Barbara, Sacramento, and Palm Springs, and it’s not a final draft of how pricing will work in the Golden State. But, it does give an idea of how drivers will be able to control the fare — something they’ve never been able to touch. 

For the test, Uber gives a base fare and the driver can adjust it in multiples of 0.1 from 1.0 to 5.0. So a $10 trip can be set all the way to $50 if you choose to accept that inflated fare. If there’s surge pricing and that rate’s higher than a driver’s minimum price, the driver will get the surge pricing. Next week, Uber is giving drivers an option to opt-out of surge pricing and set their prices below the Uber base. So that $10 ride could be set to $8. Pricing will have a wide range of possibilities with this set-up.

As you can see, there’s lots of experimenting going on! Ride-share blogger Harry Campbell of The Rideshare Guy blog said in a message that there’s a lot of skepticism of the new method because of the potential for drivers to undercut each other, especially during a surge period. 

Competitor Lyft is also affected by AB5 changes but declined to comment on Uber’s pilot-pricing scheme. 

Although Uber’s just testing out set-your-own pricing for drivers, it’s approach is similar to smaller, competing ride-hailing apps like Bid2Ride and Russian company Driver. But, instead of the riders bidding on prices like in those apps, it’s drivers setting the fare. 



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