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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Slow Monday is a bust

According to an UberX driver, tonight (Monday evening September 15, 2014) was the worst Ubering night ever. Beginning at around 9:30pm and ending at 2:30am, this driver completed 5 trips and earned $40. They spent $20 on gas because these trips required longer pickup times to reach clients.

Uber is keeping $5 of these fares for $1 safe trips and taking $7 for commission. This driver is left with $28, which minus $20 in gas leaves this night a bust at $8 for 4 hours of driving.

Monday nights are usually better. GPS was pinpointing clients at further out and wrong locations. GPS worked, and didn't work. Uber's In-app navigation directed this driver to a home residence. The driver left a text message to inform their client of this arrival and that they will be waiting outside of the requested address. However, this client called and told this driver that they were waiting in downtown Berkeley.

Once the driver reached this new location, the In-app navigation somehow directed the driver back to the home residence they were arrived at prior to driving downtown. How can this app direct this driver to a home residence (pick-up address) and also have the destination stored with the same address? Needless to say, this is very confusing.

In another trip, the In-app navigation directed this driver on the freeway. Then, this driver reached the BART station on the freeway, where there is no ideal way possible to make a pickup. Instead of the app directing this driver to the right location, it sent them on a wild goose chase. The driver finally figured out that this client was waiting at MacArthur Bart station, on the lower level. This client already knew the GPS was experiencing problems and wanted to take this up with Uber.

All in all, this UberX driver had an extremely bad night Ubering. This drive was extremely dissatisfied with driving on this terrible Monday evening. Normally, this driver would keep busy driving the entire night. What this driver noticed is that longer rides cost much less than usual. It is highly possible that Uber is slashing prices again to remain competitive.

The rumor mill is turning; Uber is reducing UberX fares 15% beginning September 15, 2014. At this rate, drivers must work harder to give more rides and make the same amount of money as before. The goal is to be efficient than to increase trips and mileage to make the same money. This fare slashing is not a good sign for drivers who are Ubering with low gas mileage vehicles.

The ridesharing future is looking bleak. No more guaranteed $45 an hour weekend evenings. No additional incentives such as $10 per completed trips between 8-1am on Thursday and Friday nights. Fares are getting slashed again to stimulate business. The cost to partake in ridesharing is too expensive, since gas, maintenance, and repairs are burying drivers.

A good driving strategy is to reduce weekday hours and drive during commute hours and weekends. If drivers choose to adopt this strategy, clients may have to wait longer during the weekdays to get rides. There probably won't be as many available drivers willing to accept distant requests. These recent price changes are bound to influence driver's earnings because this means more trips taken and more miles driven.

What if your employer informs you they'll be dropping your hourly pay from $15 to $10 an hour? And they reassure you that overtime is available to make up this reduction? Would you be happy to work more hours to make what you previously earned working a full 8 hours? Drivers are earning more, but are they working additional hours to achieve this goal? Burnout is inevitable.

The East Bay was surged for 30 minutes on Friday night. No clients sent out requests until this surge passed. Are clients getting smarter to wait and request rides at normal prices?

Tough times are likely ahead for ridesharing drivers. The cost to rideshare is expensive. In a year, most of earnings are spent on gas, repairs, car washes, and maintenance. Brakes and tires wear out faster. Oil changes are required much sooner. In the end, drivers are left performing ridesharing services without much compensation to keep efficient.

What was once a great opportunity is quickly sinking drivers. A driver who earns $600 will pay out $50 ($1 safe rides) to Uber for 50 trips, another $110 on commission, and $10 for a phone subscription. Furthermore, the driver must pay for their own gas, which may cost between $100-350 a week. For the most part, a driver may only see $200-$300 out of the $600.

Once all expenses are deducted, the driver is left with less money than a minimum wage job. They have to deal with many personalities, and accept higher risk than minimum wage employees. These drivers tear up their vehicles to make chump change. Potentially, car repairs will ground drivers. Even unexpected mechanical issues such as door handles and locks can keep drivers off the road.

The UberX driver realizes they must reduce their hours, only driving on busy weekend nights, commute hours and during special events. Otherwise, this driver is losing time, money and gas performing ridesharing service during slower times. It is like a restaurant server working slow lunch and dinner shifts. Nonetheless, this server can make more working one weekend night and/or morning shift than with three slow shifts.

It is all about efficiency. Ridesharing is not efficient if prices keep dropping and ride requests increase. There is no incentive to drive on slow nights. Drivers who drive Monday-Wednesday won't see these earnings until the following Thursday. Despite claims that reduced prices boost business, the truth is that drivers must accept more ride requests, work more hours, take additional trips and deal with more clients to make 20 percent more than without these price reductions.

We see data that leaves out driving hours. It focuses on weekly earning increases. Driving a client from the Marina District to Downtown is usually a good fare, Nonetheless, fare reductions are lowering the price of this trip down to $10. And the motivation used to support this reduced price lies in making drivers believe that taking Marina to Downtown trips will increase with surge pricing. If clients are reluctant to request rides during surges, the driver is on the hook to take long rides for much less. Ridesharing drivers can't count on surge pricing to increase their earnings.

Airport rides, Sunset and Richmond district fares, and trips that leave the city make drivers decent earnings. Sitting in traffic for long periods of time will only make drivers an extra $.26 per minute.

Really take into consideration how to become an efficient ridesharing driver by making immediate adjustments. Cost is a major factor. Time is of the essence. Gas is the most vital resource. If you fail to maintain a balance within these areas, you will struggle to make a profit. Re-evaluate your driving plans.

Happy Ridesharing!