Dave Whittle (DaveWhittle)

Ride Apprentice

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Comments by DaveWhittle

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     1 year ago in  Do passengers know that Uber often takes half the fare?

    No, riders don't know (and arguably don't care) how Uber compensates drivers.

    What they DO know is that there are plenty of drivers willing to do the ride for whatever Uber gives them.

    So the real question is and should be "is Uber's business model sustainable?" 

    In other words, "Are there enough drivers willing to continue to deliver rides for what Uber pays them, and enough passengers willing to pay for those rides at what Uber charges them?"

    So far the answer is and has been "Yes."

    For me personally, the answer is "Yes for Uber Lux SUV" and occasionally "Uber Select," but "No for Uber X and Uber XL."

    But I generally only do Uber in between the scheduled rides I'm doing for my own limousine company and affiliates, or on the way to or from home and such scheduled rides.  In other words, Uber is extra income, not reliable steady income.


  • That would depend on the personality of the driver, but my guess would be that you're not getting lower ratings for not talking, but rather for being seen as being uncaring.

    Drivers can be pretty sensitive as to whether riders treat their drivers with the respect we deserve as human beings.  So if you keep quiet or are curt, especially if the driver tries to strike up a conversation, then the driver will probably assume that you see him or her as a driver and not a person.  And that feels the same as you being rude to the driver.

    Hope that helps.


  • Some general observations on your question before I answer it:

    • Most drivers don't really know whether they're losing money with Uber or making money. Most believe they're making money because they can see the deposits in the bank but they can't see the depreciation on their car or the repair bills that they haven't had to pay yet.
    • The day of reckoning for depreciation and repairs and new tires will come someday. That's when a lot of drivers stop driving, because they've spent the deposits and now can't afford the day-of-reckoning cost hit.
    • The nicer and more expensive your car, the higher your costs as a driver and the more likely it is you're losing money unless you're consistently getting a lot of SELECT or LUX SUV or BLACK rides.
    • If you're driving a $2,000 car that barely meets Uber's qualifications and doesn't have much value to lose to depreciation, you're making more money than someone who has an expensive car - but very few people make what Uber or Lyft claim you can make per hour.  Supply and demand sees to that.

    So with those points in mind, consider my answer to your question of why if drivers are losing money, they keep driving:

    1. They think they're making more money than they really are and aren't even aware that they're losing money.  They pay close attention to the deposits in their bank account but not much attention to their costs.
    2. Some are willing to trade the value of their vehicle for cash in order to meet short-term needs. These short-term needs can take many forms, such as medical bills, rent, some big bill that just arose, or even food.  Uber/Lyft absolutely lets them do that.
    3. Some are getting intangible benefits from driving, such as social validation or psychic rewards.
    4. Some find driving to be almost like a game or form of entertainment, learning how to maximize income, finding better rides, mastering surges (haha), and so on. 
    5. In fact, many drivers are being manipulated by Uber without knowing it. Uber uses very sophisticated psychological technigues to motivate drivers to do what's in Uber's best interests, whether or not it's in the drivers' best interests.

    In other words, there are many reasons drivers keep driving for Uber or Lyft even though they're not making as much money as they thought they would.


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     1 year ago in  Taxi driver literally kills an Uber driver [Fox10]

    Yup!  We all need to invest in a DashCam while we're still alive so the police will be able to find our killer without our help after we're dead.


  • I would change the business model to be sustainable WITHOUT waiting for driverless cars - and I would do it ASAP.

    The current model for both Lyft and Uber depends on drivers who place a low value on their time and underestimate their costs, while placing a high value on the their independence and control.

    Most drivers lose more on their car costs than they calculate.  For example, the excess miles alone on my 2014 Acura MDX (which qualified for Uber SELECT, Uber SUV, Lyft Lux, and Lyft Lux SUV) lowered the value of the vehicle by over $3,500 in only 15 months according to NADA. And that's on top of the $11,000 normal depreciation. That's $233 / month for the excess mileage and $733 / month for the normal depreciation. Those costs were invisible to me the entire time I was driving that car.

    Commercial insurance (required back then to do the $3.75 / mile SUV rides for Uber) was also $400 / month, and insurance on the car loan added another $88 / month, so fixed costs alone were well over $1,400. The variable costs I tracked, like gas, tires, oil, etc. added even more, so even getting rides that paid well, it was tough to even break even doing Uber or Lyft rides alone.  And in the nicer car, I was losing money on every ride less than $10 if I did UberX or Lyft rides. I quickly quit doing that unless there was a surge.

    Similar analysis of driving my Prius revealed that the grand total of my net, after-cost earnings over 4 months to be about $6 / hour even though I had originally thought I was making almost $14 / hour after incentives.  Yes - factoring in costs, I made less than minimum wage.

    So in essence, Uber and Lyft were exploiting my ignorance of what my true costs were going to be.  That's why I say that the business models of both companies are unsustainable. Both companies are betting on driverless vehicles rescuing them from the low fare prices they're charging riders - but I don't think they can keep finding new drivers to replace their former drivers (like me) forever. 

    There will be a day of reckoning, and if I were CEO, I'd be worried that it might come sooner than later and before autonomous vehicles arrive.  So that would be my top priority.


  • I've had plenty of riders I wanted to kick out of my car, but I never have. Here's why I haven't.

    1) The harder your passenger is to bear, the more likely it is that they're either dangerous or a threat to your well-being.  I make it a point of pride to be the adult in the car on every ride.  That often means swallowing my pride and keeping my mouth shut. Jesus taught "agree with your adversary quickly, lest he turn on you." That's especiallly good advice when you're driving strangers around. The meaner a person is, the more likely they are to find a way to hurt you somehow for any slight they perceive.  Your rider could be a first-time / one-time rider - the most dangerous kind.

    2) I don't like losing money on any ride I've accepted, but if I'm going to cancel a ride, I do it before they get in my car. I also don't accept rides from low-rated passengers in the first place unless I'm chasing some sort of incentive based on acceptance rate.

    3) Not that ratings matter all that much (they matter to the degree they keep your passenger from canceling on you, and they kinda set expectations for those who tip), but you'll get better ratings if you treat everyone with respect and a smile - even those who don't deserve either.

    4) As you noted in your question, it's not only dangerous for you, it could be dangerous to your passenger. Soothing your pride is not worth endangering someone's safety, much less their life.  That driver could be found liable in a court of law for the safety of the passenger.

    Hope that helps!