If you’ve ever had a particularly excellent Uber driver — one who offers water, say, or greets you with a hand-picked selection of mints and candy — you know that the urge to tip is strong and true. But even though we can all agree that drivers deserve gratuities for going the extra distance (or just waiting for you when you take longer than two minutes to get the hell out of your house), Uber hasn’t made it easy. Sure, you can give the person ferrying you through rush-hour traffic some cash if you’ve got it on hand, but until now, Uber hasn’t offered an easy way to extend a monetary thank you to your driver within its app (in the way that competitor Lyft has).
That all ends now. Tech Crunch reports that Uber is trying to climb out of the rubble of bad press it’s created for itself by extending “an olive branch” to drivers and customers alike. Starting today, Uber is embarking on an initiative entitled “180 days of change” (get it?) and the company’s first step to moving onward and upward is to introduce tipping in select cities. No longer will drivers have to survive on long trips and star ratings alone. Right now, riders in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston can start giving tips at their discretion and the feature will become available in all cities by the end of July.
This isn’t the only change coming for drivers — although Uber acknowledges it’s the one that’s been most requested. Those who drive for the company will also get a cancellation fee if their rider cancels after two minutes (instead of five), get paid starting two minutes after arriving to pick up a passenger regardless of whether the passenger has entered the vehicle, and have the option to purchase driver protection injury insurance (among other things).
It’s not yet clear whether Uber itself will be absorbing some of the costs detailed above or whether they’ll fall on riders, but along with tipping, the changes are bound to earn the company favor with at least some of their drivers. More changes are coming: Uber will reveal a new set of improvements every month for the next six months in an attempt to win back the trust of both their customers and employees.