Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) is positioning itself for a post-COVID-19 world, announcing that customers in select cities throughout the U.S. will be able to book hourly rides.
Through the feature, which Uber had been testing in cities across Australia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, customers will be able to book rides for an hour, allowing them to avoid the need to request a new trip at each destination they visit. It could be useful for people who hail Uber rides to run errands or take a loved one to the hospital and are wary of getting into multiple vehicles amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uber is charging $50 an hour for the service. The tech stock said mileage overage will vary by city. Riders will be able to book rides in hourly blocks and will be chauffeured around in a more spacious and newer vehicle make and model, the company said.
"We built this feature for riders that anticipate needing additional flexibility when taking care of essential tasks, and for drivers so that they could access an additional earning opportunity," wrote Uber in a blog. The service is rolling out on June 2 in Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Houston; Miami; Orlando; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Seattle; Tacoma; and Tampa Bay.
The ride-hailing start-up has been taking steps to calm nervous riders as cities begin to lift stay-at-home orders throughout the U.S. Earlier this month it announced drivers will be required to wear masks and confirm they are doing so. Riders are also required to wear masks, sit in the back seat of the vehicle, and open windows for ventilation. Uber is also reducing the number of people in one car at a time to three from four.