Uber has unveiled a new policy that enables the company to kick riders with low ratings to the curb.
For years, Uber allowed passengers to rate drivers on a star system, ultimately allowing customers to influence whether drivers can stay behind the wheel. Internal charts from 2014 published by Business Insider showed that drivers with ratings of 4.6 or below were at risk for the boot.
Though drivers could rate passengers, there was no equivalency in consequences. But now Uber's drivers will have a greater say about the behavior of passengers.
"Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability," Kate Parker, Uber's head of Safety Brand and Initiatives, said in a statement released Tuesday. Parker added, "While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it's the right thing to do."
The shift will begin in the United States and Canada, the company said.
Riders will start to see a screen on the app that summarizes community guidelines and then asks them to confirm their understanding of the new terms. They will receive tips on how to increase their scores — suggestions like being polite, taking their trash out of the vehicle and refraining from asking drivers to speed.
Before passengers are deactivated, they will have multiple chances to boost their scores.
Uber didn't say what the thresholds will be for passengers to lose access to the ride-hailing service.
"Each city has its own minimum threshold which is directly related to the average rider rating in that city," Uber spokesperson Grant Klinzman told NPR by email.
Anyone can check their rating on the Uber app by visiting the main menu and looking at the number under their username.
Riders will also lose access to Uber's food delivery app and JUMP, which allows people to rent electric bikes and scooters, Klinzman added.
A spokesperson for the Independent Drivers Guild, which represents more than 65,000 app-based drivers in New York, praised Uber's announcement as a way to protect drivers in addition to riders.
"While most riders are respectful, banning riders who threaten driver safety, spew racist rants, and disrespect or damage our vehicles is the right thing to do," spokesperson Moira Muntz said in a statement. "For too long there has been one-sided accountability and this is a positive step toward correcting that."
Video footage recently showed a Lyft driver being brutally beaten by a rider in Queens.