Uber Taxi: What do you actually think about it?

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Duke

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But, in my community, the heavily regulated taxi industry is harmed, and some customers of these cheaper, less regulated ride-shares are sometimes subjected to harrowing experiences.

In any community I've ever used a taxi, being "heavily regulated" just means that there are layers of graft (official and otherwise) that drive the price up while doing NOTHING to improve the quality of service or safety of the vehicles. Seriously, I have ridden in clapped-out Crown Vics with so much front end play that going over a pothole would cause the car to change lanes without input from the driver, and required 20°-30° of steering to affect the course. I've ridden in 20-year-old taxis that I could tell by the sound had zero rear brakes and precious little front brakes left, driven by people with clear disregard for anything but getting from Point A to Point B in the shortest possible time.

I, personally, in 40 years of occasional taxi use, have not witnessed a single positive benefit of "regulated" taxis. I've never had call to use Uber, but I wouldn't hesitate. They at least have standards about the physical condition of the car.
 

Dotini

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Where I live the transportation system is very challenged, despite costing a royal fortune.

Institutions and people are experimenting with many ways of getting around on a budget, and the Uber idea is one of them. It doesn't really seem sustainable in the long run, but so what, nothing is. I'm ok with it, but clearly its symptomatic of deeper infrastructure and economic problems.
My last word on the subject.

Edit: I will add that my morning newspaper reports black riders in Seattle have longer wait times using Uber and Lyft compared to white customers.

The findings come from a study by the U of W, MIT and Stanford.
 
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BobK

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I will add that my morning newspaper reports black riders in Seattle have longer wait times using Uber and Lyft compared to white customers.

The findings come from a study by the U of W, MIT and Stanford.
Interesting.

Is there any way a driver can determine the race/gender/whatever of a prospective client in advance?

Wonder if a similar study has been done on "traditional" cab companies.
 

Dotini

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Interesting.

Is there any way a driver can determine the race/gender/whatever of a prospective client in advance?

Wonder if a similar study has been done on "traditional" cab companies.
I'm not the expert you need here. But I think Uber driver bookings in Seattle involve picture ID. A simple phone call gets you a regular cab.
 
9,401
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Interesting.

Is there any way a driver can determine the race/gender/whatever of a prospective client in advance?

Wonder if a similar study has been done on "traditional" cab companies.
As a Driver all you can see is the name and where you will pick them up from.
 

Azuremen

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I'm not the expert you need here. But I think Uber driver bookings in Seattle involve picture ID. A simple phone call gets you a regular cab.

My experience is your name and location show up when you request an Uber, no photo. Of course, as a former delivery driver and service person, it isn't hard to make assumptions based on names at times.

As for calling for a standard, regulated cab, I rarely get one in a timely fashion, the drivers are typically horrible, cars in less than great conditions, and service is typically rude. Uber summons generally take only moments, drivers are professional, cars are clean, and it is extremely clear how much you'll likely end up paying.

Quite literally every Uber experience I've had absolutely shames regulated taxis, across multiple cities in the US.

It is also worth noting that Millennials are not big on making "simple" phone calls, because they are rarely as simple as the two or three taps required to request an Uber. A phone requires finding the number, waiting for an operator, having them check for cabs in your area, requesting your location, assigning a driver, and then confirming it all. It is also nice seeing exactly where your driver is via the app versus trusting the operator's quote for your wait.
 

Dotini

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I finally got around to reading my paper, The Seattle Times. And the study applies to Boston as well as Seattle, and has to do in part with Airbnb phone ride hailing app which has photos of its guests and hosts. It gives customers the means to discriminate. Uber doesn't show customer photos to drivers but Lyft does, the article says.

The study found that Uber drivers discriminated against African-American sounding names.

The study also found women were taken on significantly longer rides than men, sometimes going through the same intersection more than once. Females are exposed to profiteering and flirting.

The story is on the top of the front page of today's paper. It is by Eric Newcomer of Bloomberg News. You can probably find it online.
 
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9,401
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mustafur
I finally got around to reading my paper, The Seattle Times. And the study applies to Boston as well as Seattle, and has to do in part with Airbnb phone ride hailing app which has photos of its guests and hosts. It gives customers the means to discriminate. Uber doesn't show customer photos to drivers but Lyft does, the article says.

The study found that Uber drivers discriminated against African-American sounding names.

The study also found women were taken on significantly longer rides than men, sometimes going through the same intersection more than once. Females are exposed to profiteering and flirting.

The story is on the top of the front page of today's paper. It is by Eric Newcomer of Bloomberg News. You can probably find it online.
Pretty much all of this makes sense to me, most times it's very easy to work out if someone is a Male or Female, and what race they are if they have a non english sounding name.

However I think the rating is probably the biggest deterrent, if that coincides with one race averaging a lower passenger rating then it's more then likely going to yield the same result regardless of driver, I don't think you will find too many drivers willing to pickup someone with a really low rating in the middle of the night in a shady area for example.
 

Johnnypenso

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Pretty much all of this makes sense to me, most times it's very easy to work out if someone is a Male or Female, and what race they are if they have a non english sounding name.

However I think the rating is probably the biggest deterrent, if that coincides with one race averaging a lower passenger rating then it's more then likely going to yield the same result regardless of driver, I don't think you will find too many drivers willing to pickup someone with a really low rating in the middle of the night in a shady area for example.
If I was subjected to a similar study I probably wouldn't fare very well myself. I don't go into shady neighbourhoods either for late night service calls and sometimes during the day as well. I've literally driven past a dead body in one of these neighbourhoods. Self preservation is a high priority for me:scared:
 

BobK

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If I was subjected to a similar study I probably wouldn't fare very well myself. I don't go into shady neighbourhoods either for late night service calls and sometimes during the day as well. I've literally driven past a dead body in one of these neighbourhoods. Self preservation is a high priority for me:scared:
I was wondering, myself, how much of this could be accounted for by the address of the pickup. I would be surprised if it's not a fairly large factor.
 

Johnnypenso

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I was wondering, myself, how much of this could be accounted for by the address of the pickup. I would be surprised if it's not a fairly large factor.
Another geographical factor could be in play as well. I'd expect the typical Uber driver isn't living in the lower part of town, partly because car ownership is higher in the burbs and partly because they have minimum standards for how old the cars can be, insurance etc. If the drivers are more likely in the suburbs to start, and less likely to be where the lower income folks live, it could also contribute to longer wait times. I'd love to see those stats if they were available.
 

BobK

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Another geographical factor could be in play as well. I'd expect the typical Uber driver isn't living in the lower part of town, partly because car ownership is higher in the burbs and partly because they have minimum standards for how old the cars can be, insurance etc. If the drivers are more likely in the suburbs to start, and less likely to be where the lower income folks live, it could also contribute to longer wait times. I'd love to see those stats if they were available.
That's an excellent point, too.

Sure would be nice to see some additional information on surveys like this.
 

Touring Mars

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There's an article in the Grauniad today about a UK Uber driver who complains that he is not earning enough to support his family. The article also mentions that he earns less than the UK national minimum wage of £7.20 an hour, which is against the law.

However, he actually earns almost double the minimum wage - around £14 an hour, or about £550 for a 40-hour week - but... he is paying £285 a week in 'costs' which includes hiring a car and paying insurance on a rented vehicle. To me that sounds a wee bit cheeky to then claim that he is getting paid less than the minimum wage!...

Also, the Uber drivers I met in the US all appeared to be using Uber to supplement their income rather than using it as their primary or sole source of income - but clearly there are those who think that Uber is obliged to make sure that people who work for them earn enough to support a family... this sounds a bit like having your cake and eating it to me - surely if you need a certain amount of money to support your family, you don't pick a job that allows you to work whatever hours you like but then complain that the amount of hours you have done is not enough to support your family... or am I missing something here...?
 

Johnnypenso

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There's an article in the Grauniad today about a UK Uber driver who complains that he is not earning enough to support his family. The article also mentions that he earns less than the UK national minimum wage of £7.20 an hour, which is against the law.

However, he actually earns almost double the minimum wage - around £14 an hour, or about £550 for a 40-hour week - but... he is paying £285 a week in 'costs' which includes hiring a car and paying insurance on a rented vehicle. To me that sounds a wee bit cheeky to then claim that he is getting paid less than the minimum wage!...

Also, the Uber drivers I met in the US all appeared to be using Uber to supplement their income rather than using it as their primary or sole source of income - but clearly there are those who think that Uber is obliged to make sure that people who work for them earn enough to support a family... this sounds a bit like having your cake and eating it to me - surely if you need a certain amount of money to support your family, you don't pick a job that allows you to work whatever hours you like but then complain that the amount of hours you have done is not enough to support your family... or am I missing something here...?
You're missing the entitlement mentality or the social justice aspect of it all:sly: Logic has no place here;).
 

Touring Mars

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Another example... "One driver said, 'Yesterday my hourly net income fell to £2 an hour. I made £40 cash, then had to put in £30 in petrol.'" So, presumably that means he made £40 in 5 hours (£8 an hour, i.e. over the minimum wage) but then spent £30 of it on petrol (albeit necessary to do the job), leaving £10 profit in 5 hours, or £2 an hour...

But... the question is how many jobs did he take in those 5 hours and how much petrol does it take to do £40 worth of cab rides? By a rough estimate based on my own experiences in Glasgow, it would take ca. 15 minutes to do a 5 mile journey, and it would cost about £10 in a cab. So, to earn just £40 in 5 hours, you would have to do only about four 5-mile journeys at £10 each... or a grand total of about 20 miles. But, for the sake of argument let's say this Uber drivers journeys are twice as long and he gets just half that fare (i.e. £5 for a 10 mile journey) - that would then mean doing eight 10 mile journeys in 5 hours to earn £40. But, even with that generous estimate, £30 of petrol is still likely to get you considerably further than 80 miles, wouldn't it? £30 of petrol is about 25 litres, or a bit over 5 gallons, which at 30 mpg would work out at 150 miles... or about double what would be needed to do those journeys worth £40. And by my (more realistic) estimate, it would be 7.5 times the petrol required to earn £40... or, in other words, enough to earn £300 (and not £40). So, again, the claim of being paid '£2 an hour' seems bogus.
 
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Got an Uber cab a few nights ago.

The guy came from near Lincoln (where I am now) to Nottingham (where my friends live) to work every night. This ride was at 3am.

Now I don't know about you but why travel 30 miles just to run an Uber cab? The taxi industry in Lincoln is locked down so if he wants to be a driver he can earn loads with one of the many cab companies in Lincoln.
 
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mustafur
There's an article in the Grauniad today about a UK Uber driver who complains that he is not earning enough to support his family. The article also mentions that he earns less than the UK national minimum wage of £7.20 an hour, which is against the law.

However, he actually earns almost double the minimum wage - around £14 an hour, or about £550 for a 40-hour week - but... he is paying £285 a week in 'costs' which includes hiring a car and paying insurance on a rented vehicle. To me that sounds a wee bit cheeky to then claim that he is getting paid less than the minimum wage!...

Also, the Uber drivers I met in the US all appeared to be using Uber to supplement their income rather than using it as their primary or sole source of income - but clearly there are those who think that Uber is obliged to make sure that people who work for them earn enough to support a family... this sounds a bit like having your cake and eating it to me - surely if you need a certain amount of money to support your family, you don't pick a job that allows you to work whatever hours you like but then complain that the amount of hours you have done is not enough to support your family... or am I missing something here...?
If you need to pay for work related expenses and your income is less then minimum wage it's less then minimum wage regardless.

Ubers constantly lowering of prices combined with uncapped driver hirings is the reason it's destined to fail, market saturation means no one gets reasonable money and is essentially sucked into a scam they were unaware of.
 
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ExigeEvan

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@Touring Mars - The logic is flawed in that instance but the reality is the same; costs incurred means earnings are less than minimum wage.

And as those costs are directly required to do the job then they should be covered outside of the wage. Similar issues are seen with Amazon delivery drivers these days.

Whilst Uber is complicit in this, it's ultimately the driver's choice of whether there is money to be made as they work as a lone agent. Seems some people fell for the "easy money" image that was being sold by the media.
 

Johnnypenso

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If you need to pay for work related expenses and your income is less then minimum wage it's less then minimum wage regardless.

Ubers constantly lowering of prices combined with uncapped driver hirings is the reason it's destined to fail, market saturation means no one gets reasonable money and is essentially sucked into a scam they were unaware of.
The numbers don't add up. Even if they did, and those were the real numbers, why would anyone ever drive for Uber after the first few trips? Sounds like it'll succumb to it's own weight soon enough. Unless, of course, those aren't real numbers which I suspect to be the case.
 
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mustafur
The numbers don't add up. Even if they did, and those were the real numbers, why would anyone ever drive for Uber after the first few trips? Sounds like it'll succumb to it's own weight soon enough. Unless, of course, those aren't real numbers which I suspect to be the case.
They do add up and make sense, but it takes awhile to even see where you are at in terms of profit and expenses, Fuel is generally the biggest expense but you can't work that out without driving first.
 

Johnnypenso

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They do add up and make sense, but it takes awhile to even see where you are at in terms of profit and expenses, Fuel is generally the biggest expense but you can't work that out without driving first.
No, they don't. According to Google the average petrol price in England is £1.15/L. That 26L of fuel for this guy. At the example fuel consumption rate of 10L/100 km that means he drove 260 kms for £40. At 50km/h average speed, again, for example, that's 5+ hours of driving for £40. I don't even need to see Uber's compensation package to know that the numbers don't add up. Any fare service that was willing to drive you for an entire hour for £8 wouldn't even get off the ground. I can't get a ride around the corner for $8 here, let alone all the way to a town 50 km away and back. Doesn't add up.
 
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mustafur
No, they don't. According to Google the average petrol price in England is £1.15/L. That 26L of fuel for this guy. At the example fuel consumption rate of 10L/100 km that means he drove 260 kms for £40. At 50km/h average speed, again, for example, that's 5+ hours of driving for £40. I don't even need to see Uber's compensation package to know that the numbers don't add up. Any fare service that was willing to drive you for an entire hour for £8 wouldn't even get off the ground. Doesn't add up.
Your average speed is significantly too high, espeically for UK.
 
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Which is part of why the numbers don't add up, unless he was sitting somewhere for most of those five hours revving his engine to burn up five gallons of gas.
 
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mustafur
He could of just got a few amount of rides, which tends to be the real issue with Uber given the oversupply of drivers that happens inevitably when the area has it for a few years.

But fuel wise it's clear it's not just from that night, but maybe from 2.
 
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Johnnypenso

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He could of just got a few amount of rides, which tends to be the real issue with Uber given the oversupply of drivers that happens inevitably when the area has it for a few years.

But fuel wise it's clear it's not just from that night, but maybe from 2.
Few rides, one ride, 15 rides, it still doesn't add up. The amount of money spent on fuel in no way correlates with the mileage or distance driven unless maybe he's driving one of these:
1974%2BCADILLAC%2BCOUPE%2BdeVILLE1.JPG
 

Joel

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The numbers don't add up. Even if they did, and those were the real numbers, why would anyone ever drive for Uber after the first few trips? Sounds like it'll succumb to it's own weight soon enough. Unless, of course, those aren't real numbers which I suspect to be the case.
Uber isn't turning a profit right now, Uber is essentially subsidizing the cost of rides and making fares artificially low. It's because Uber's long term strategy is the same as a tech company, expand rapidly and cover losses with investment money and figure out how to be profitable once you've cornered the market. Twitter and Snapchat do the same thing, they both have hundreds of millions or billions of users, but still lose money because they have trouble monetizing that without alienating their users. It's the same with Uber, if they raise fares to profitable levels they'll just be massively undercut and Lyft will take their market share because investors are looking at the future and the potential long term benefit of essentially replacing the global taxi industry. The challenge for Uber is that they have to pay enough to make it financially viable for a driver (or at least make it seem viable) and this is a lot more expensive than paying to keep servers running.

Uber tends to give good start-up bonuses and there's definitely a bit of a honeymoon period. It's the kind of thing where you might not realize the numbers aren't working out for you until you're already a few weeks in. It's super easy to sign up and drive as a side gig so there's still going to be lots of drivers. I also think it's partially because the fact that you're incurring additional maintenance expenses is a bit nebulous and if you don't have experience in business or accounting you might not grasp that if driving more with Uber means you need new tires in a year instead of two years that's also an expense that comes out of your revenue.
 

Touring Mars

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Your average speed is significantly too high, espeically for UK.
I don't think it matters that much how accurate the average speed or fuel consumption figures are in such an estimate as the one I used above - there's still a massive discrepancy between someone claiming that they need to pay £30 in petrol in order to earn £40 and what they should/could earn from that amount of petrol - even in the UK where petrol is quite expensive...

But even if that were true (which it can't be, but let's play along for a bit) then the next question is why on Earth do they choose to do it? I could (if I wanted to) commute to New York every week and work there, but only at considerable additional expense that would essentially leave me with not enough money to live on... would that mean that my employer wasn't paying me enough because my expenses are too high to make the work viable? Clearly not - the responsibility for making my pay go far enough to suit my needs is mine, not my employers. Maybe that's a bit spurious*, but the point remains that no-one is forcing people to work for Uber, and if they can't make their pay cover their costs, then they should do something else for a living.

The broader question is how do these sort of jobs fit in when a minimum or 'living' wage is in place, where everyone will have different costs and expenses that make doing these kinds of jobs feasible for many and infeasible for some... clearly it isn't working out for some people, but should that mean that the entire business model or concept of things like Uber should be abandoned entirely? What about those who make a good profit out of it, or those who know it doesn't pay all that well but provides a useful supplement to their primary income (which is how Uber is used by many people)?

edit: *As a slightly better example, my colleague commutes to Glasgow from Edinburgh every day and pays a whopping £3750 for his annual train pass; in contrast, my train pass costs £560 a year - a difference of some £266 a month. He can afford it, but the PhD students (on minimum wage) in our lab might struggle - but it doesn't mean they get less than the minimum wage - they would still make minimum wage, but by choosing to commute from Edinburgh rather than living closer to work, they would be looking at 25% of their income going on train fares.
 
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GTsail

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Another example... "One driver said, 'Yesterday my hourly net income fell to £2 an hour. I made £40 cash, then had to put in £30 in petrol.'" So, presumably that means he made £40 in 5 hours (£8 an hour, i.e. over the minimum wage) but then spent £30 of it on petrol (albeit necessary to do the job), leaving £10 profit in 5 hours, or £2 an hour.....

As @mustafur theorized, my guess is that the Uber driver's example covers more than one day. Perhaps a full week:

Day one: Drives for five hours, earns $40, spends nothing on fuel, average earnings $8/hour
Day two: Drives for five hours, earns $40, spends nothing on fuel, average earnings $8/hour
Day three: Drives for five hours, earns $40, spends nothing on fuel, average earnings $8/hour
Day four: Drives for five hours, earns $40, spends nothing on fuel, average earnings $8/hour ($40/5hrs = $8/hr)
Day five: Drives for five hours, earns $40, spends $30 on fuel, average earnings $2/hour ($40-$30=$10/5 = $2)

So the weekly average is $6.80/hour ($200-$30=$170/25hrs = $6.80)

I could see where an Uber driver might need to re-fuel their car only once a week if they were only working five hours a day and they earned only $40 per day (which seems to imply quite a bit of stationary time, waiting for the next passenger). The above is not a very profitable scenario, but at least its nearly the minimum wage.