Uber can charge whatever they want now. Basically, Uber charges whatever the rider is willing to pay. It isn't based on time and distance anymore.
I kept wondering why my Uber prices fluctuate even for the same trips. At first I thought it was the infamous "surge pricing", but I started to wonder why sometimes it warns you of surge and sometimes it doesn't. Well, it turns out that Uber in most markets can charge whatever they want now. Uber has officially but quietly updated their pricing policy to state exactly this.
What is "willing to pay" mean? They look at the requested trip and various characteristics about you and then determine how much you are willing to pay. They will continue to push the boundary too. This means:
- If it's a popular route and many people are willing to pay, you will be charged premium. (regardless of driver availability or demand)
- Certain time and day, where they know you need a ride, they will charge you premium. This can be Monday mornings to the airport, rides FROM transportation hubs, 2:30AM after bars close (and no public transportation), trips to and from hospitals, etc.
- If they know you are a business traveler (either by demographics, your entries, or locations), they will charge you a lot more.
(These are just some things I have heard, and I have not personally confirmed them.)
Do you know what's really messed up? The drivers are not aware of how much you are paid. They continue to be paid on their contracted rate based on time and distance. So they get paid the same amount regardless of how much you are gouged.