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Changes coming for Uber, including tipping through app

Updated June 29, 2017 - 5:48 pm

Uber drivers will have options to make extra cash in Las Vegas as part of the embattled company’s “180 Days of Change” initiative, company executives said.

In a reversal from the company’s longstanding policy, Uber will allow Las Vegas riders to tip their drivers through the smartphone app by the end of July.

At the same time, Las Vegas passengers could be charged 15 to 40 cents per minute if their Uber driver is forced to wait longer than two minutes during a pick-up. Fees ranging from $5 to $10 could be levied against riders who cancel a ride more than two minutes after placing an order.

And, earlier this week, the ride-hailing company enacted a policy that allows users to order a ride for friends and family members.

The effort is aimed at changing the image of Uber, which saw the resignation last week of company CEO Travis Kalanick at the urging of investors. The San Francisco-based company has also has a long history of battling with drivers over their classification as contractors rather than employees, along with issues surrounding wages and benefits.

“We heard from our drivers that they wanted other ways to earn money,” Uber spokeswoman Stephanie Sedlak said.

“We’re making a commitment to these meaningful changes,” Sedlak said. “We want to make sure the experience we’re delivering to drivers and passengers is the best of what Uber has to offer.”

Uber slowly started rolling out the tipping option June 20 in Houston, Seattle and Minneapolis in response to concerns raised by the company’s drivers.

Passengers could have always handed their Uber drivers a cash tip since the company’s start eight years ago, but the company’s ride-hailing rival Lyft has always allowed passengers to tip drivers directly through the app.

Uber this week also announced that it delivered 5 billion trips. The milestone was reached when 156 trips worldwide were ordered simultaneously 11:29 p.m. local time on May 19 — including one in Las Vegas.

Michael Lima, a logistics manager who started driving part-time for Uber just a few days earlier, will receive a $500 bonus for his role in the milestone. Lima didn’t specifically remember the passenger he picked up for the call, but said that it was likely a trip between a Strip hotel and McCarran International Airport.

“We you do 20 rides a day, it’s hard to recall who it might be,” Lima said. “I’m just thrilled to be part of that milestone.”

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

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