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Uber makes major changes in California in response to new gig worker law

One Uber driver told ABC10 that he's pleased with the changes, but wants "a guarantee that it's going to stay" and that the company won't revert back to old ways.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Uber announced major changes Tuesday affecting both drivers and passengers in response to a new, controversial California law that went into effect at the start of the new year.

For months, the ridesharing company was one of many trying to stop Assembly Bill 5, which makes their drivers employees with benefits instead of independent contractors.

In a press release sent to the company’s users, Uber said its changes are geared toward making sure riders have a better chance at getting rides at any given time.

"These changes may take some getting used to," the statement said, "but our goal is to keep Uber available to as many qualified drivers as possible, without restricting the number of drivers who can work at a given time.

"We want your Uber experience to be excellent, and fewer drivers on the road would mean a more expensive and less reliable service for you."

RELATED: Author of controversial gig law isn't backing down

Wayne Anderson is retired but has been driving for Uber for a few years. He said he likes AB 5 because he said it will help those California drivers who are driving for both Uber and Lyft without any other income or health benefits.

And while he’s pleased with the changes Uber is making, he’s hesitant to be completely satisfied.

"We're going to need some kind of a guarantee that it's going to stay that way," Anderson said. "And that they are not just going to do it until AB 5 has stopped biting them and then go back to their old ways."

Here's what the changes mean for riders.

When selecting a ride, users will start seeing a price range instead of a set price. The actual cost of the ride will depend on how long the trip takes. Drivers will see their pay estimate too, and they could deny your request if it does not work for them.

RELATED: Uber to let riders use pin codes to help identify right car

That means shorter rides that cost less could be denied, and riders might have to wait longer for a driver.

"I've had rides where I drove 13 minutes, and then I got a $3.00 ride that's not even worth my gas," Anderson said.

Riders will also be able schedule rides with their favorite drivers after you giving the drivers a 5-star rating. With the new feature, riders request a scheduled ride, and drivers will have the opportunity to accept the reservation. 

While Anderson admitted that he is pleased with changes, he’s not optimistic about their longevity. Regardless, taking that next Uber might take more time and a bit more money.

"Passengers need a ride,” Anderson said. “The company needs drivers to drive, and drivers need the work. But we all have to compromise. We all have to say, ‘OK, we'll accept this much.’”

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Chris Thomas.


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