In New York City, Uber Eats now uses a scheduling system called the “Planner.” You may not be able to sign on and deliver if you don’t schedule any hours!
Here’s what’s going in: In response to a minimum earnings law in NYC, Uber created a scheduling system to limit the number of couriers who can be online at the same time.
You must now use the Planner to sign up for hours in advance if you want to consistently work your preferred hours. If you’re not on the schedule, you won’t be able to go online and deliver unless you are in a busy ‘hotspot’ area.
For example, the courier below was not able to go online and deliver because demand in the area wasn’t high enough.
Couriers with higher Uber Pro rewards tiers and higher metrics get early access to the schedule and can reserve more hours. Hours are reserved for the following week, Monday thru Sunday.
Here’s what the Planner looks like:
How the NYC Planner works
- The total number of hours you can reserve depends on several factors, including your acceptance rate and your Uber Pro tier
- Depending on your metrics, you can schedule hours for the following week starting on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Higher ratings = earlier access
- Scroll through the Planner to see upcoming dates and times, then tap to schedule available hours
- You can deliver without scheduling hours if there is enough demand in the area
- If there isn’t enough local demand, you can’t go online unless you have reserved hours
- You can continue delivering after your scheduled hours if there is enough demand
Drivers with higher Uber Pro tiers get early access to the schedule
The new scheduling system doesn’t have equal access for every courier. Those with higher Uber Pro tiers and higher metrics will get earlier access to the schedule and will be given more total hours to schedule.
For example, a Diamond tier driver can schedule hours on Wednesday and may get up to 35 hours to schedule. A Blue level driver can schedule hours on Friday, and may only get as few as 5 total hours to schedule.
Here’s what the early access notification looks like:
Another announcement says that the number of hours available to you depends on your satisfaction rating and your ‘usage of the times reserved during the previous month.‘
Can you deliver without being on the schedule?
You can go online and deliver without any scheduled hours if the demand in the zone is high enough. But when demand is low, you won’t be able to go online and an alert in the app will say, “Demand isn’t high enough here. Try moving to a busier area or reserving a time.”
Realistically, how often can you expect to deliver without scheduling hours? I asked drivers on Reddit, and several said that going online without scheduled hours is not an issue yet:
- “Going online hasn’t been an issue for me so much as the availability of orders once online. “
- “I can go online every time. Not scheduling hasn’t been an issue at all”
In a hotspot area but still can’t go online?
It’s a common problem: You navigate to a hotspot on the map hoping to go online without scheduled hours, but the app says it isn’t busy enough. It turns out that the presence of a hotspot is not a 100% guarantee that you can deliver without reserving a time.
There isn’t a completely reliable way to predict when you can go online without hours. You’ll have to experiment in your area to see where and when you can deliver without scheduled hours.
Can you continue delivering after your scheduled hours end?
Uber says that you can continue to deliver after you scheduled hours end “if there is enough demand in your area.” That means that you will be forced offline if there isn’t enough local demand. You may need to reposition to a busier zone, and you can’t continue delivering if none of the zones are busy enough.
Lessons from the DoorDash scheduling system
The new scheduling system on Uber Eats will look familiar to Dashers because DoorDash has always used a scheduling system.
If the new Uber Eats scheduling system is anything like DoorDash, you will have to learn precisely when new hours are released if you want to claim the best hours.
Competition for hours is fierce, and those who aren’t fast enough or lucky enough to claim hours may have to sit on the sidelines.
Another lesson from DoorDash is that it will likely be worth meeting requirements to get priority access to the schedule. On DoorDash, you can qualify for Early Access and the Dasher Rewards program to get priority access to the schedule. On Uber Eats, it’s a smart idea to level up your Uber Pro rewards to get scheduling privileges.
DoorDash also allows you to deliver without a schedule (“Dash Now”) if the zone is busy enough, or if you reach Top Dasher status.
Uber Eats also allows you to deliver without a schedule in busy zones, but so far there isn’t a program equivalent to Top Dasher that would allow you to deliver without a schedule even when zones aren’t busy.
This is a big change!
Uber has never required scheduling in any form, either on Uber Eats or rideshare. This is a major shift that changes how you work for Uber Eats.
You’re losing the flexibility to work whenever you want
Logging on whenever you wanted was one of the biggest perks of delivering for Uber Eats. That flexibility is gone.
With a scheduling system, you have to plan your work schedule ahead of time and hover over the app to claim the hours you want. You might even have to wake up at odd hours of the night to schedule the best hours, which is what Amazon Flex and DoorDash drivers have to do.
If you want more hours you have to accept more orders
Now that your ability to schedule hours is connected to your acceptance rate, most drivers will have to accept a lot more orders if they want to consistency work.
Before, the strategy for most drivers was to use the upfront earnings info to skip the lowest-paying orders and target the orders with high tips and low miles.
But the new minimum wage law already incentivizes you to accept more orders because you are paid around $30/hour for ‘active’ time, so a higher acceptance rate might not be an inconvenience.
Now that you are paid to wait, most drivers will start to accept orders from slower restaurants that they would have skipped in the past.
This could help with over saturation
Over saturation has been an ongoing problem in the NYC delivery scene. Just about anyone with a scooter or bike could sign up for Uber Eats, and Uber didn’t do anything to limit the number of drivers in the market. The result was too many drivers competing for limited orders.
Now that Uber has control over the number of online drivers, over saturation should decrease. If Uber gets the right balance, you can stay busy if you schedule hours.
But if Uber can’t balance driver supply with order demand, we might see downtime for couriers or longer wait times for customers.
Uber is a customer-focused company, so it will likely schedule enough drivers to keep wait times low. Some over saturation effects may remain.
Read more about NYC delivery wage laws