Uber’s $1-per-ride ‘safe rides fee’ had nothing to do with safety
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Uber imposed a $1-per-ride surcharge it called a “Safe Rides Fee” in 2014, but it was a just a play for profit. The money collected by the company from the fee — estimated at around $500 million — was never earmarked specifically for safety and was “devised primarily to add $1 of pure margin to each trip,” according to an excerpt from New York Times reporter Mike Isaac’s new book Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.
At the time, Uber was facing rising costs from insurance and background checks, so the company came up with the idea of imposing a safety fee to help boost its margins. Meanwhile, its actual safety program consisted of little more than a short video course for drivers. It wasn’t until years later that Uber began adding safety…