By Supantha Mukherjee
STOCKHOLM – Ride-hailing service Bolt said on Monday it plans to allow drivers to set their own prices and passengers to select their driver, starting with three UK cities, days after rival Uber Technologies Inc raised prices by 10% in London.
The changes would give drivers more control of their business and are aimed at addressing national concerns about driver shortages that led to longer wait times, cancellations and surge pricing, Bolt said in a statement.
Ride-hailing customers in several countries have been dealing with cab unavailability during peak hours as people go back to offices following the pandemic, which had forced many drivers to quit because of a lack of customers.
A common criticism is that drivers tend to accept and then reject trips if a more profitable journey becomes available elsewhere.
Estonia-based Bolt and U.S.-based Uber are trying to woo drivers back to their platforms with the promise of more income.
“We hope to reduce waiting times on the Bolt app and have fewer driver cancellations so customers can get to their destination quickly and safely following increased demand in recent weeks,” said Sam Raciti, Bolt’s regional manager for Western Europe.
Bolt will be testing the new features across three cities in the Midlands region in England this week, ahead of a planned UK- wide rollout before Christmas when 65,000 drivers would be able to set their own prices within a range or continue to use surge pricing.
Uber had also started to allow drivers in California to set their own fares for trips, but removed the feature less than a year later, saying more riders declined higher fares and did not re-request a ride on Uber.