Uber has introduced a new subscription-based membership scheme called Ride Pass in five US cities. The program enables passengers to avoid price surging, when costs rise due to high demand.
The subscription costs $24.99 (£19.31) in Los Angeles and $14.99 in Austin, Denver, Miami and Orlando. Uber has plans to expand the scheme to more US cities next year should it prove successful, but currently has no plans to introduce it outside the USA.
"One thing we hear a lot from riders is that changes in price - however small - can make it tough to plan their day with Uber," said Dan Bilen, product manager. "The daily commute is a classic example, and it goes something like this: you pay one low price for the ride to work, only to find the ride back home is a different story.
"We want to make Uber a reliable alternative to driving yourself - an affordable option people can use for their everyday transportation needs. Ride Pass is designed to take the guesswork out of riding so you can confidently plan your day with Uber without any unwelcome surprises."
Uber estimates that users can save up to 15 per cent a month on their current spending, especially for heavy users who frequently travel at rush hour and other peak times. Ride Pass users will be able to track how much the subscription has saved them over the course of a month, enabling them to gain a sense of whether the service is worth the cost.
With growing speculation that Uber may go public next year, Ride Pass could help the ride-hailing app secure more regular customers, but is another example of the company subsidising rides in order to provide a lower price. If the firm does go public, it will face significant pressure from shareholders to transition to a profitable operation, which could see fares rising for passengers, even with Ride Pass.