Lyft launches default tipping, rating protections and more to keep drivers happy

Until autonomous vehicles are here, ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber have to attract and retain human drivers if they hope to sustain their businesses.

Lyft announced Thursday a half dozen new driver-friendly features, from default tipping and in-trip tipping to ways to protect their ratings and an events planner. Lyft also committed to rolling out at least one new feature or enhancement from its driver community each month.

All of these new features came out of Lyft’s Driver Advisory Council, which was formed in 2016.

Lyft has allowed tipping through its ride-hailing app for years. It’s a feature that has helped Lyft drivers earn $1 billion in tips, according to Lyft. Now it’s expanding tipping to help boost earnings.

Beginning next month, Lyft will add a default tipping option and in-ride tipping for select riders. There will be a broader roll out after the New Year. If riders select default tipping in the app’s settings, Lyft will automatically apply their pre-set tip percentage to the driver’s earnings when they don’t proactively rate a trip and add a tip themselves.

Meanwhile, the in-ride tipping option allows riders to give a tip during their ride. These days, the ride has to end before a rider can issue a tip. Lyft found that riders open the app during 53 percent of trips, a data point that suggests an in-ride tipping option might boost earnings for drivers.

Lyft is also going to start dropping the single-lowest rating for every driver, exclude low ratings for the stuff like heavy traffic outside their control, and default to a five-star rating if riders don’t rate their drivers.

The single-lowest rating will be dropped every 100 rides the driver completes.

The rating policy will work the same way for passengers and drivers: if a ride is left unrated, the rating will default to five stars, Lyft said.

Finally, Lyft is rolling out an event planner of sorts. This feature is designed to give drivers insight into upcoming local events. It will also display a demand graph that shows the busiest hours of the day.