Uber has introduce a new plan to get customers into its transportation ecosystem while also expanding the list of services it offers ahead of an expected public offering in 2019. It’s called Ride Pass, and it’s Uber’s attempt at an subscription service.
Ride Pass is now available in five cities: Los Angeles, Austin, Orlando, Denver, and Miami. For $14.99 a month or $24.99 a month in LA riders can lock in flat rates on all the UberX and UberPool trips they take over the course of that month. The rates, based on historical data, will be heavily discounted, saving riders up to 15 percent on their overall monthly travel, Uber says. Ride Pass fares won’t be subject to typical external events like weather, traffic, or surge pricing. And there’s no limit to the number of rides customers can take each month.
Starting today, riders in those five cities can sign up through the app. Once they get rolling, Ride Pass subscribers can track their savings on every ride with real-time updates. It auto-renews, so there’s no need to remember to buy a pass every month. And users can cancel any time, but there won’t be a refund if they cancel in the middle of the month.
“We’re really keen to make sure this is priced to the point where people can buy the pass not have to think too much about it,” said Dan Bilen, product manager at Uber. “The vision for Ride Pass is it makes Uber a budgeted line-item for riders.”
Drivers will still get the same earnings based on time and distance, with Uber covering the difference. That means, yet again, Uber is introducing a new product that will require it to pay out huge sums in order to cover the full cost. The company rarely turns a quarterly profit, and it’s reportedly looking to shore up its costs as it nears an IPO in 2019.
“There are various different mechanisms with respect to how we think about the economics of this,” Manik Gupta, head of product at Uber said “This is a unique structure that really meets the needs of our customers. That’s our focus right now. Over time, as we have more riders using our platform, all the rest will follow.”
Uber has been testing subscription plans on and off for at least two years. One iteration, “Uber Plus,” offered select riders in six cities 20 to 40 trips at reduced flat fare prices for $20. But starting a year ago, Uber began testing subscriptions in earnest, building up to a point where it was piloting the service with over a million riders taking tens of millions of trips in 25 cities across the country.