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Uber cost algorithm

boobo94 profile image Bogdan Alexandru Militaru Originally published at on ・3 min read

How uber calculate rides costs

Surfing a few articles attached below, Uber calculates the costs for its trip based on multiple factors:

  • Base rate: The base rate is determined by the time and distance of a trip.
  • Booking fee: In your city, a flat fee might be added to each trip. It helps support operational, regulatory, and safety costs.
  • Busy times and areas: When there are more riders than available drivers, prices may temporarily increase until the marketplace is rebalanced.
  • Your fare may increase if you travel to a different destination or make extra stops along the route, or the trip takes much longer than expected.
  • If an upfront fare is not honored, you will either be charged the minimum fare or a fare based on the measured time and distance for your trip, including any base fare, booking fee, surcharges, tolls, and other relevant factors such as a dynamic pricing charge.

Thanks to we have an example:

Your Uber fare is first calculated the following criterias:

Base (or initial) fare – A flat fee charged at the beginning of every ride

Cost per minute – How much you are charged for each minute you are inside the ride

Cost per mile – How much you are charged for each mile of the ride

Booking Fee (Formerly ‘Safe Rides Fee’) – A flat fee to cover Uber’s ‘operating costs’ (Not included for Uber’s more luxury services like UberBlack or UberSUV)

Here’s how Uber uses the 4 main criteria above to calculate your fare:


Base Fare + (Cost per minute * time in ride) + (Cost per mile * ride distance) + Booking Fee = Your Fare

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A great article was found on Medium How does Uber do Surge Pricing using Location Data? which explains how they handle huge demand.

3 valuable lessons about pricing in front of clients and drivers

3 valuable lessons from This Is Your Brain On Uber article:

  1. Users are ready to pay 49$ instead of 50$ because they think there are a reason and a good algorithm behind it. Using a factor as 2.1 or 2.3, instead of 2 makes a good conversion.
  2. Uber knows that clients are willing to pay surge prices when the battery is critical. They said that only use this information to put the app in power-saving mode.
  3. They use this surge algorithm because if they increase the price 2x as regular and then make discounts, the riders will love it, but drivers will hate this.

Surge pricing is specific in different areas of a city. Some neighborhoods might have surge pricing while other neighborhoods have normal pricing. Uber uses a lot of data such as information about events, weather, historical data, holiday time, and traffic to have a forecast of future market conditions.

How riders and drivers benefit from surge pricing?

Riders benefit from surge pricing because they have multiple options, they can choose to pick a car very fast or they can wait 10-15 minutes for a better price. The driver benefits too because they get a percentage of that surge price too. So they earn more money.


  3. Really helpful article, because it summaries a lot

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