An Uber spokesman explained the fare hike in an email Monday.
“For drivers, this small change can have a big impact over time if they are providing a lot of short trips,” he said. “For passengers, the minimum is higher for these short trips, but this won’t likely have a major impact on folks that are using uberX as an alternate commuting option, given those trips tend to be a bit longer.”
The D.C. region isn’t alone in the fare hikes. Uber said in a blog post to drivers that it was raising its minimum fare in 24 cities nationwide.
“We know that short rides can add up, and a seemingly small change like this one can make a difference for your earnings over time,” the company said.
In recent months, the company has unveiled a bevy of new software features aimed at appeasing drivers, including built-in coffee and bathroom breaks, compensation for excessive wait times and the ability to pick up passengers during their morning and evening commutes. The new features are the company’s bid to show it’s listening to driver concerns, even as it remains entrenched in a labor struggle with its workforce.
On Thursday, a California federal judge threw out a $100 million settlement Uber proposed in a class-action lawsuit concerning whether drivers should be classified as employees or contractors, saying Uber’s proposed settlement was unfairly low.
Commuters who use Uber’s discount carpooling option aren’t likely to notice the increased fares. According to the company spokesman, the price increase won’t affect uberPOOL fares, which are discounted up to 80 percent during SafeTrack. Drivers, however, will be paid their cut of a $6.35 minimum fare regardless whether they are conducting standard or pool trips, according to a company spokesman.
Uber’s SafeTrack initiative “Pooling Together” launched in May, with the company pledging to invest $10 million toward driver incentives and discounts over the course of a year.