It's been one year since Uber added tipping to its app. And, Uber said, it's been good for drivers.
Drivers have earned more than $600 million in tips through the app in the US and Canada over the last year, the ride-hailing company said Thursday. Uber said that the longer tipping is available in the app, the more passengers hand over gratuities. For instance, in the first six months, Uber drivers earned $200 million in tips and in the last six months drivers earned $400 million.
Drivers had asked Uber to include in-app tipping for years, but the company insisted passengers appreciated the convenience of a tip-free ride. Finally, after months of strained driver relations over lower earnings, Uber launched tipping in June 2017.
"You told us what you want and it's time we step up and give you the driving experience you deserve," the company wrote on its website at the time. "Because simply put, Uber wouldn't exist without you,"
Lyft rolled out in-app tips five years before Uber did. The smaller ride-hailing company announced in April that its drivers had earned $500 million in tips in the US over the last six years. Like Uber, passengers have tended to tip more over the years. More than half of those $500 million tips — $260 million — came in during 2017 alone.
Uber and Lyft have been in a tight competition to win over drivers — it's crucial to their businesses. Without drivers the ride-hailing companies wouldn't have passengers and without passengers the companies would fold.
Besides tipping, Uber has amped up other offerings for drivers. It added a feature that pays drivers extra if they have to wait for customers, along with 24/7 phone support and an easier passenger pickup system through the app. Uber has also started paying drivers to return riders' lost items, like phones. And letting drivers know if they had a long trip ahead of them, so they can choose whether or not to accept that fare.
Lyft has also worked to make drivers happier. It has its corporate employees spend four hours every three months driving to better understand drivers work. It's also expanded its driver support centers throughout the US. And on Wednesday, Lyft announced it was helping drivers with rising gas prices by giving them discounts at Shell stations.
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