Lonely Planet Writer

Uber plans app that can turn commuters into taxi drivers

Uber has totally transformed the taxi industry since its introduction and now wants to go a step further by turning ordinary commuters into temporary drivers.

Uber plans to use commuters as part-time drivers
Uber plans to use commuters as part-time drivers Image by Alper Çuğun / CC BY 2.0

And it claims it can be done simply – thanks to its new app. At present, the app program is being worked on in Chicago and China and there are high hopes it will further revolutionise the people-ferrying business.

Uber believes that its new development with commuters as drivers will help reduce parking and traffic problems in big cities
Uber believes that its new development with commuters as drivers will help reduce parking and traffic problems in big cities Image by Viaggio Routard / CC BY 2.0

The New York Post says the common sense behind the next Uber development is to use people who are heading in the same direction as others to make money for the driver on a part-time basis.

Uber services
Uber will check out the driving licence and previous record of people before giving them the green light to drive for them on a part-time basis  Image by Joakim Formo / CC BY 2.0

David Plouffe from Uber told the Daily Telegraph said the ultimate goal was that there would be no Uber drivers per se, only people who drive a car and make money while doing a message or going to the airport.

He said that when people drive to and from work 10 times each week, it creates massive opportunities for this development. The idea is that a person in such a position would press a button on the phone to say they are available and then picked up other people who were interested in getting a lift on the route.

Ultimately the hope is that it will lead to lower fares while also growing a totally new side of the business.

Before a person qualifies to make extra money in this fashion, Uber says it would check out the drivers licences and their previous driving records to ensure passenger safety. It is envisaged that the cost would be less than UberPool where three strangers share a ride in a car.

Mr Plouffe believed that the new arrangement would have a massive impact on the environment by reducing parking and gridlock problems normally associated with rush hours in major cities.

In terms of London, there are over one million cars around the city centre each working day, virtually all of which have only one driver in them. It would be much more efficient to change that situation, he told BBC’s Radio 4.

He said such arrangements could lead to a reduction in personal car usage and in some case it would mean people could eschew the expense of ever buying a car.

This new trend by Uber was made possible by the prevalence of smartphones and with their technology the aim was to get cars to pick up people much quicker than at present.