Uber launches pet rideshare program to let furry friends come along

Uber Pet is launching on October 16 and allows riders to take their pets along for a fee.

Taking your dog or cat with you on an Uber ride has, until now, been precarious at best. Oftentimes, drivers would cancel a ride if they saw a pet waiting with its owner for pickup. On the flip side, those that followed through with a ride were often left with pet hair or muddy pawprints to clean up at their own expense.

Now, Uber is working to solve that problem for both parties. Starting October 16, Uber Pet will allow riders to bring their pets along for a small fee. While drivers can opt-out of the program, those who choose to allow pets will earn a “significant portion” of that surcharge.

Uber is now Pet-Friendly

Uber Pet will appear in the same place where options like Uber Black and UberXL currently reside when riders set-up their trip. The service will cost between $3 and $5 per ride depending on factors like surge pricing and location. However, riders won’t actually see this charge as an addition because it will be included in the ride’s upfront price (just like the other premium options).

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Service animals will be exempt from the fee per Uber’s policies and can ride for free at any time. This falls in line with both federal and state laws which grant exceptions to service animals in almost every case.

While Uber Pet is slated for a nationwide rollout eventually, the company will test the program out in select markets. It will debut on October 16 in Austin, Denver, Nashville, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Tampa Bay.

For drivers that don’t want to transport pets, there will be a choice to opt-out of the program. They can do this from the preferences area of the Uber app. However, they will miss out on the extra earnings and the possibility of picking up more riders who can’t bear to part with their four-legged companion.

Excessive Upcharge?

Interestingly, Uber will now be charging riders a significant fee for a service that many previously got for free. While it was never a guarantee that an Uber driver would allow pets to come along for the ride, many didn’t mind. As such, it appears that this move is more for the benefit of drivers than riders.

Even so, many are already questioning what exactly the company means when it says that drivers will see a “significant portion” of the extra fee. Considering the fact that Uber has a less-than-stellar track record of paying its drivers, it would be nice to know that the fee is actually going to them to help cover the cost of cleaning their car after transporting pets.

Meanwhile, riders despise that they now must pay $3-$5 extra on top of a ride that may already cost upwards of $8. The fee stings even more since they’ve likely already been taking pets along for several years at no cost.

Finally, there is some concern that people will simply lie and say that their pet is a service animal even though it’s not. With no way to know and laws that prohibit drivers from questioning the validity of such claims, it would be all-too easy for riders to get away with this.

So, while Uber Pet will likely help reduce some friction between drivers and riders, not everyone is wagging their tail.