Uber has announced that it’s expanding its driver-focused Uber Pro service nationwide across the U.S., with plans to bring the service to international markets.
The ride-hailing giant, which is preparing to go public any day now, has faced criticism on a number of fronts, but particularly over the amount of money its drivers take home after expenses and taxes. This is partly why last May it revealed plans to launch a new program that rewards its best drivers with additional perks. In November, the San Francisco-based company unveiled Uber Pro as part of a broader charm offensive to win back public support ahead of its IPO.
Uber Pro basically lets drivers unlock benefits based on their ratings and trip cancellation rates, with the best-performing drivers able to earn up to 6% more on their time and distance rates, cash back on their fuel, discounts on car maintenance, and even tuition for courses through Arizona State University (ASU).
While Uber Pro will technically retain its “beta” tag for now, it is for all intents and purposes rolling out nationwide from today. The program initially kicked off in eight U.S. cities — Seattle, Chicago, New Orleans, Phoenix, Orlando, Tampa, Denver, and New Jersey — and it later expanded to Boston and Washington, D.C. From today, Uber Pro will be available in another 20 cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, Orange County, St. Louis, Raleigh-Durham, and Richmond.
Moreover, the company is teasing an international launch for the program, though it has only revealed Mexico as part of the inaugural pilot. According to this legal T&C page on the Uber website, all drivers located in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Tijuana, Baja California, Puebla, and Mérida who meet the basic criteria for enrollment will be automatically registered for Uber Pro.
“We’re rewarding drivers around the world for their commitment and quality through unique program elements tailored by country,” said Uber’s head of driver product, Daniel Danker. “This will include more opportunities for educational access that flexibly support long-term goals. We’ll have more to share in the months ahead.”
It’s worth noting that Mexico is one of Uber’s biggest and most profitable markets, so it’s not surprising that it’s among the first international markets to get Uber Pro.
Uber revealed last week that it was seeking to generate $10 billion from its public market entry, with a valuation of around $84 billion, which would make it the biggest IPO of 2019 and among the biggest of all time. As Uber chases elusive profits — and seeks to put gargantuan losses behind it — the company has to curry favor with the thousands of people who power its service around the world. As drivers have a growing number of services they can work for, Uber is striving to earn their loyalty through programs like Uber Pro.
With today’s expansion, Uber Pro is now open to around 60% of drivers in the U.S., with 120,000 able to claim the entirety of their tuition fees for a four-year degree program at ASU — or pass the benefit on to a loved one. There are some thresholds in place to qualify for this — all eligible drivers must have completed 3,000 trips and maintain a gold, platinum, or diamond status in Uber Pro.
In related news, Uber also revealed that it will soon launch a new loyalty program for Uber Eats couriers, though it is holding back on details until later this month.