Two ride service companies, Uber, and Lyft, have gained national and international recognition as the cab alternative and perhaps its replacement. Both Uber and Lyft heavily recruit drivers and have ride service in just about every populated area of the United States and abroad.
Uber and Lyft both have created a buzz among interested and potential drivers as the appeal of working when you want and how much you want as well as working with no boss looking over your shoulder has raised some eyebrows. Uber X has made it possible so that just about anyone with a car can become a driver. But can you really make decent money as an Uber or Lyft driver?
Uber has made becoming a driver quite easy, if you are twenty-one years old with a license, insurance, and a four-door vehicle in pretty good condition, the company will hire you on board. All that you have to do is head over to the company website and signup. Upon passing a background check and providing your basic information, drivers must then take an online training course after which Uber will give you a phone.
Uber claims that many of its New York City drivers earn over $90,000 dollars per year while drivers in San Francisco the company claims are making $70,000 per year. While this is not inconceivable and too far-fetched, anyone considering becoming a driver should consider the data used by Uber, the information is based on drivers who work more than 40 hours per week and does not include the unavoidable expenses such as gas, parking, insurance, maintenance repairs as well as tolls.
Uber’s claims may be misleading as numerous articles and stories of drivers have surfaced in print media and the internet which reveal that in areas such as New York where there are lots of tolls and traffic, making a living as a driver is much harder than it may seem. One driver shared a story of how a 30 mile trip took upwards of four hours to complete in morning traffic which to the driver meant that the $35-40 fare was hardly worth it as Uber’s cut, toll expenses, and gas reduced the driver’s profit significantly and the fact that earning the net $17 dollars took several hours and resulted in less than minimum wage earnings. Uber’s cut is 20% and the company does not provide any sort of gas compensation while drivers must also cover all insurance and repair expenses and any toll fares.
You might get a ride client who wants to travel 30 miles home from work or a restaurant which generally would be a fare in the $40 plus range, but luck must be on your side that you will not get held up in traffic so that you can get your next client in a reasonable amount of time and also that your drop-off point will be near the next client and that there are enough clients and not too many drivers so that you can work continuously and efficiently. Sometimes if you have gaps in client pickups, you may end spending gas driving around as you wait and also as you move to a potentially better location while you await the next ride order.
If you expect to make a living off of Uber, you likely will have to drive and work overtime. The $75,000 figure driving for UberX in San Francisco, based on the calculations of financial journalist Felix Salmon, is achievable by working 58 hours every week. While the company will let drivers work as many hours as they want, in some areas there may be too many drivers or too few clients. Also, if you have to work overtime to make ends meet or reach your financial goals, working the extra hours as a driver means that your car will suffer wear and tear and gas expenses will be high. If you can master the system and your car holds up, it might be worth driving for Uber or Lyft, but the companies are certainly setup in a way that the company is guaranteed profits while the drivers often will make very little money when all is said and done.
A word of advice if you really want to be in this profession and love to drive, join NYC limo service.