They may have self-driving Ubers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now, but in Australia we can at least schedule one with a human in it to take us to the airport at 5 a.m.
On Thursday, the multibillion-dollar ride-hailing company launched its Scheduled Rides service in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. On the app, rides can now be scheduled up to 30 days in advance.
Unfortunately, the service isn’t available across the extent of those four cities: In Brisbane, you can schedule a ride only in Merthyr, New Farm, Newstead and Teneriffe; in Melbourne, the CBD and inner suburbs; in Perth, the CBD, inner suburbs and Freemantle; and in Sydney, the Eastern Suburbs and Inner West.
Basically, the areas where bougie Uber users are most likely to live — and also the areas where UberX drivers are most likely to be looking for fares.
That’s important because, according to an Uber spokesperson, scheduled rides are not registered with drivers days in advance. Rather, the company is holding the request and then dispatching it just as if you requested an UberX in the normal fashion.
“From a driver’s perspective, it’s no different for them,” he said. UberX drivers will get no extra pay for Scheduled Rides.
In the areas where Scheduled Rides is now offered, he added the company is “100 percent confident” of its ability to serve the request from available drivers without booking them well in advance. He did not clarify how Uber would compensate a passenger if there were absolutely no cars available for, say, a 4 a.m. trip.
“The areas that we’ve launched in, we’re absolutely confident you’ll be able to get a ride when you want one,” the spokesperson said.
To use the new feature, just select UberX in the app and then schedule a ride. Once you’ve chosen your pickup spot and time, as well as destination, Uber will send you a reminder 24 hours and 30 minutes before your pickup.
Unfortunately, scheduling a ride won’t save you from any surge pricing in action in your area.
The feature began to roll out in the U.S. in June, not long after Uber’s competitor Lyft had begun testing a similar feature.