Fellow drivers in Singapore, have you been in these situations before?

  • No pings / have to wait for more than five to eight minutes for pings even though you are in high demand or surge areas (red zone)
  • Over a period of one, two or three weeks, you keep receiving passengers going to roughly the same areas eg, Jurong West, Punggol, Marine Parade?
  • Some of you may have even tried, having your friend sitting right beside you and try to book an Uber (this is technically against Uber’s T&C but I know we have all tried this)  but the booking is assigned to other drivers instead of you?
  • You are waiting at Changi Airport and a fellow Uber driver who joins the queue a few minutes after you gets a ping first?

I may have a simple deduction for this. Again, refer to my home page that my deduction is not based on hard data but on my driving experience.

Whenever the situations described above happens, we begin to panic a little bit.  Wondering whether is our mobile network working or did the Uber app hang (I have experienced this a few times). Some of us will reset the Location function on our mobile phone, reset the Uber app or even restart our phone.

Possible Explanation

There may be a possible reason for this. It is how Uber’s algorithm assigns the bookings. During the orientation when we sign up to be Uber drivers, they categorically said that Uber will assign the nearest available driver to the passenger. This is what they tell passengers also, assuring passengers that wait time is minimized.

We can clearly debunk this statement just based on the experiment that some drivers have tried, with their friends sitting just beside them making a booking. How much nearer can you get?

My theory is that Uber wants you to specialize in certain areas. I reckon, by their logic, if you keep going back to the same areas, you will be familiar and know the area better. This will translate to better rider experience because if you keep going back to the same areas, you will know the shortcuts, traffic conditions of those areas. Thus, passengers can get to their locations faster.

From  my experience, there was a period of time that I was “assigned” Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands and Jurong West area for about 3 weeks. Regardless of where I start my driving, I kept getting passengers going to these area. Even after I dropped my passenger at these locations, turn off my Uber app and drive back to town, I was assigned passengers going back to these area.

Is It Good For Drivers?

There are pros and cons to this. The good thing is that, as mentioned, by knowing the area better, drivers are able to pick-up and drop-off passengers faster.

Another good thing is that, in my case, when I go to town during surge pricing, I get high fares when I send them to Woodlands, Choa Chu Kang or Jurong West.

The disadvantage of this is that you may have to wait longer for Uber to assign you jobs for passengers going to your “assigned” areas. Once, on a Sunday I had to drive slowly from Bishan to Holland Village before I get a passenger going to Choa Chu Kang.

The main disadvantage is, at night or the wee hours of the morning, if you are assigned to what I call the Dead Zone of Woodlands, Choa Chu Kang  and Jurong West, drivers you will end up with no passengers or low fare trips after you drop off your rider.

Is It Fair?

Fellow Uber drivers in Singapore, what do you think? I would love to hear your opinions on this. Leave a comment or you can email me

For your information, currently I am assigned Hougang, Punggol, Marine Parade and Holland Road areas.

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