Uber Puerto Rico announces new driver-oriented features
SAN JUAN – Ride-hailing company Uber has announced the implementation of new features within its network to provide its drivers with more security measures when on the road.
Among these new options are user verification, the ability to share a trip route and an instant-messaging or chat feature for riders and drivers to communicate without having to share personal information.
“Today we present new functions to guarantee control and tranquility in the experience of driving with Uber, helping to keep both drivers and users safe, before, during and after each trip,” said Julie Robinson, Uber’s spokeswoman for the Caribbean and Central America.
When Uber was launched on the island, only its riders could share their trip. Now company drivers will be able to share their route so their friends or loved ones can see their location on a map.
The new chat tool within the application can connect drivers with users, helping provide more anonymity between them. This feature allows communication without the need to share personal contact information.
“To send a message to a driving-partner who is on the way, the user must go to Uber’s ‘feed,’ select ‘contact’ and then ‘chat.’ When the driving-partner receives a message from the user, it will be read aloud for them. Driving-partners can acknowledge by touching the app to send a ‘thumbs up.’ This way, they can stay focused and assure they are on the way,” Robinson explained.
The company recently announced a new cash payment method for users in Puerto Rico. Robinson said the application works the same as always, but users will not need to provide credit card information.
New users who prefer to pay cash and don’t have a registered credit or debit card validate their identity through their personal Facebook profile. In the case of drivers, who are given workshops to learn to use the system, a green screen notifies them if a passenger will pay in cash.
The option to pay in cash came after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló enacted a bill that made the Public Service Commission regulator. The Transportation & Public Works Department (DTOP by its Spanish acronym), its former regulator, prohibited the cash payment option.
Uber has 4,000 drivers on the island, of which 81 percent say they depend on it for their income. In its first year in Puerto Rico, the company says it has provided its service to more than 111,000 residents.