I hate driving and if you don’t use your signals, I hate you too. I get lost all the time despite having GPS and traffic is the most maddening thing to me. So I’m not quite sure why I signed up to be an Uber driver, but it was incredibly easy. Actually I do know why- I had a car, I had spare time, gas is dirt cheap, and I was under the impression I could make a lot of money. It seemed like a great idea to make extra cash, but after actually doing it a few times it wasn’t really for me. Driving was the last thing I wanted to do and the pay wasn’t worth it. If you have a car that’s at least a 2006 model or newer and a driver’s license, you can basically become an Uber driver.
During the week driving early in the morning, like 5-9 am, or during rush hour, 5-7 pm, allows drivers to be sent jobs more frequently. Working on weekend nights also has high volume, but also a lot of unruly customers. Trying to look for rides during the middle of the day obviously has less volume and is almost not even worth it. It’s not like you can pick and choose your rides as a driver. You get notifications through your app about a job nearby and you can choose to accept it. Choose not to and it could be any number of minutes before you get another one. You have like 15 seconds to accept a job, so if you’re driving it’s a little tough to see the details as well. After completing a ride it’s not like you’re sent another ride immediately either, so a quarter of the time you’re on the road you aren’t getting paid.
Surge prices are the bane for most customers and why Uber can be a pain to use, but weirdly enough there never seemed to be surging where/when I was driving. When I visited my college town we took an Uber and it was $30 for a 12 minute ride. This was because of the surge pricing, if there’s high demand and not enough drivers to meet that demand then Uber will surge the prices. I rarely ever made that much on one trip because I never saw any surging. I went driving when it was raining, no surge rates, I was driving after midnight, nothing. I’m sure I was just unlucky or driving in the wrong area, there’s a map for drivers to see surging areas and pricing, but surge rates are frustrating because there’s no set time or area for it.
Uber takes $1.60 out of every ride and then 20% of the fare total after that deduction. Here are the payment rates in New Jersey.
Essentially the minimum fare being $5.60 means that the minimum you can get paid for a ride is $3.20 after Uber takes it’s share. I was paid that amount for around 30% of my trips. There’s no tipping through the app and it’s recommended when you sign up with Uber to not accept any cash tips as well. As a customer you’re encouraged not to tip either, and it kind of sucks. For yellow cabs you tip, why doesn’t Uber allow tipping? Obviously to attract more customers, but it’s unfair to the driver. Uber removes $1.60 for safe ride fees each ride, optional tipping would greatly offset those. There’s no waiting time fee when you wait for a customer, but drivers should be paid for waiting time after 3 minutes because otherwise they’re just wasting their time. A ride to the airport is usually only legal, at least near me, if you have a TLC license. Most uberX drivers don’t have a TLC license, and that could cost the drivers.
Driver’s generally get paid more driving in NYC, but you need a TLC license to drive there. TLC licenses aren’t too expensive, only a couple hundred bucks, or too difficult to get. But the resulting hike in car insurance is a couple thousand, a detail that Uber fails to mention on its help page. It wouldn’t be too tough to get your money back though, but you’d have to drive all the time. 60 hour work weeks would easily earn drivers more than a grand, but the work hours are abnormal usually. This is your car and Uber won’t be paying any benefits or help the driver when their car gets overworked or damaged. Outside of the city I can’t see any full time drivers making too much better than minimum wage, but with added risk to their vehicle.
Customers hold a lot of power over the driver, and drunk customers are sometimes really tough to deal with. If you don’t have above at least a 4.6 rating that’s considered bad. Uber suggests giving passengers water or treats to keep your rating high, but I felt that suggestion kind of demeaning. I signed up to Uber to drive and earn a little extra cash, not to whore myself out to every customer for ratings. Drivers can rate their customers too, but I’m not sure how much power that holds. If a driver’s rating drops too low they can’t work with Uber. If a customer’s rating drops too low, they can just have their friend call the Uber.
Uber is cheap for the customer and generally available everywhere. If you live anywhere resembling a city there’s an Uber driver 3 minutes away from you. Google Maps has an Uber option when suggesting travel routes and it’s steadily forcing yellow cab companies to bankruptcy. Uber’s good for customers now, but not great for drivers. Things won’t last like this forever and once it’s competition is gone I expect pricing increases to follow suit, hopefully some of that money go towards paying the drivers.