Robert Paulson (RPaulson)

Ride Apprentice

Driver in NYC. Uber and Juno, used to drive Yellow
547 Driver

Activity

Posts by RPaulson

Comments by RPaulson

  • This is exactly what the taxi organizations warned the public about.  No one listened. Dirt low prices and shiny mobile apps.  No one cared about privacy or safety


  • I do think it was the useful app that became such an attraction for the people. I think we ALL had that aha moment when we took our first ride. Download the app and called a cab.  Remember how easy it was?

    Then again, for the service to be useful, they had to have ample number of drivers first. I think there was some genius and careful process involved. They really need to be commended for coming up with this cookbook that worked in every city.

    They started in smaller markets and were very careful about expanding to new cities. Whenever they arrived in a new city, they hired local folks, moved some experienced managers there. Then they would negotiate with local authorities, recruit drivers, etc. etc.


  • After sharing I've been driving Uber for over five years, this passenger told me:

    'how did you know to get in at the ground level? you must be a millionaire."

    Really? She thought I had a stake in the company?  Buddies with Travis? 


    {{ ratingSum }}
     8 months ago in  Is it impolite not to make small talk with your driver?

    Just to be clear I wasn't saying we should not talk to passengers. We are to speak and have a conversation when engaged. If they ask a question, you answer politely and fully. 

    You can ask questions, expand on the story, etc., but just make sure you aren't the only one talking. Try to speak as much or less than the customer.

    This is the best way to make sure you do not go over your boundaries. Some riders prefer to speak and some do not, and unfortunately, it isn't easy to tell. Some drivers tell stories unprompted or bring up new conversation topics, but how do they know if the passenger wants to have those conversations? They don't.

    No need to overthink this. It's about being friendly and respectful at the same time.


    {{ ratingSum }}
     9 months ago in  New York RideShare

    There's everything under the sun in NYC.  Each one has its own flavor.

    Unlike in other cities where one person has Uber or Lyft as the primary and Uber or Lyft as the secondary, in NYC, drivers seem to use Juno or other smaller rideshares. 

    Also in NYC, there are lots of limo companies and airport transfer companies.  Most of these require you to have livery license, but look out for Blacklane, Jayride, SuperShuttle, Talixo, etc.

    oh, Via is a unique one.  It's like a pooled ride.

    Then there are Arro and Curb which are for regular taxi drivers, so it probaly won't apply to you.


    {{ ratingSum }}
     9 months ago in  As an Uber/Lyft driver do you tip if you are a rider?

    If there's a driver who doesn't tip, then that person is a cheap hypocrite.  His or her words lose all credibility in my eyes.  


    {{ ratingSum }}
     9 months ago in  As an Uber/Lyft driver do you tip if you are a rider?

    When I originally started driving for Uber, the expectation was that the tipping wasn't required.  To be completely honest, I took that at face value and expected none.  I didn't even carry cash with me while I drove, and I actually didn't mind it.

    The times were different back then.  I was making more money than I did as a taxi driver, and I was happy being a UberBlack driver.  I felt like I owned my own business, a limo company, and I made a decent business out of it. It also helped that it was a way it allowed me to gain more and more clients.  I will admit now that once I got to know the customers, they would simply call me and didn't go through Uber at all. 

    Why am I telling you this story?  It's because it's about expectations and how much we are making.  Int he above case, I expected none and I was able to make a living.  I also got paid well, so I had nothing to complain.

    So in summary, the problem is how low Uber is paying right now.  Looking at the figures discussed, say people tipping $1 on a $6 ride, that is just not a good business model to be leaning on. It is disgraceful that this money issue has been pushed down to be argued between drivers and customers, while this really should be a business problem that is being handled at the corporate level.  (Just as a record, I am not against tipping.  If we go this direction, Uber needs to set the expectation, say 20%, and educate their users on it. Then this gray area will disappear and everyone will go back to being happy.)


  • Uber set the expectation with the  “cashless experience” and “our own private driver”. That’s the new bar that was set a while back. 

    At best, they reset the expectation (ie eliminated th 15-20% for taxis) by introducing  their tipping feature where no one knew how much to pay and suggestions were to tip like 1-3 dollars regardless of what the trip was. 


    {{ ratingSum }}
     9 months ago in  Which Driver are You? The 10 Types of Uber Drivers

  • I have had drunks pass out in my car many a times.  The concept is easy.  You just wake them up once at the destination, and hope they won't swing their arm in surprise.

    The game was a lot tougher when I used to drive cabs around. 

    Why?  With cabs, we needed to collect the fare (cash!) at the end of a trip.  This is a very slippery slope when the person is drunk.  Do I take it upon myself, as a caring driver, to take money from the wallet?  I am sure the customer doesn't mind.  I am sure they'd prefer that over the real world consequences.  However, you see the problem.  Is this a crime for me to be digging around?  Probably is!

    So what do I do?  You may be wondering what I did.  There really are only two options:

    1) Drop off the rider at the police station.  This is a crappy situation for everyone.  I have to drive way over, on my own dime, to the police station.  Then I have to fill out forms and 99% of the time I don't get paid. (Once time, a woman did send me a check later.  That's once in 25 years of driving.  There were a few other times where the money trickled back to me, but those are exceptions.)

    2) Literally knock on the door of the house at the destination, in hopes that a spouse, family, or roommate would open the door.  This is a better outcome than #1.  I get to collect my fare (usually) and I get to hand over the responsibility to someone else.  


  • One of my shifts used to be repeatedly picking up strippers from a local gentleman's club, and shuttling them back and forth from local hotels and residents.   Always paid cash, even though my cab n later years was equipped with CC machine. 

    For some reason, almost always, they would ask to change in the back of the car.  Yes, I have gotten quite a number of shows, all while being paid.  Ha!


  • Is this that Fortnite game that youg people are playing?


  • I was a taxi driver for a bunch of years.  Now I drive Uber for a living and enjoying the true flexibility.  Driving in NYC was rough.  You get your shift and you had to go all out during those hours.   i digress though.

    so, I feel like the expectations have changed.  The culture has changed.  I used to have (and still do) other driver friends.  Some of my neighbors were in the Queens but most I actually met at JFK and LaGuardia waiting lot.  We would wait for hours, and we would just chat.  I've played chess with some of them, traded lunch items, and exchanged driving tips.  Some of us were close enough, and when cell phones came around (yes, I am really aging myself now) we'd call each other to share info.  

    It started with discussing good pickup locations and such, but most of it was a game.  It was fun driving around Manhattan coordinating drives.  We felt like a squadron of jet fighters circling the city.  LOL.  

    In any case, my point here is that yeah, we used to talk on the phone all the time.  We were in the zone!  Sure, I enjoyed the conversations with passengers, but in many cases (maybe it's a NY thing), they wanted their own space and privacy, that they were in their world and I was in mine.  I didn't feel it was rude, and I didn't think the passengers used to think it either.

    Now with Uber, I feel like people talk to me more, and I am expected to converse.  I have had some people sit in front with me and tried to make conversations.  I am an introvert but I have come to enjoy this aspect of my job these days.  Maybe the retirement has gotten me soft.


  • On taxis, traditionally speaking, it was a big no-no and against the service terms to decline passenger's suggested routes.  Our job was always to go wherever the customers told us to go, even if it's to do circles around the block or asked to "follow that car!" 

    I honestly thought that was the law, but thinking back, I am not sure if that was the case.  It's just that that's all how we were trained and behaved.  Those were slightly different ways.  We did what we were told, because that's the way it was supposed to be.  I've been driving for way too long.

    Well, looking at your example, yeah, we pretty much have to follow the passenger's words, or you can get be left a negative review...


  • I bet you can bet your donkey that Seattle is looking very closely at NYC's actions.  Seattle has been very vocal so I am sure there are ready to make a move.

    Then again, this is the city that let those gypsy cabs go wild for years and years without doing anything.  


  • I don't enough about what they are going to do and how they are goin go to do it.  Hence, I have no idea which side I should be cheering for.  I agree the # of rideshare drivers or any drivers in general shuold be limited, whether it's for solving congestions or giving us jobs.  However, if it's to kick them all out, or apply a medallion-like system on us, then I am out.


    {{ ratingSum }}
     10 months ago in  Uber's New Surge Rules - "Making surge work for you!"

    "Surge sticks with you."  

    What do riders see then?  ...if the surge is attached to the driver?   Pax don't know whether there'd be a surge until you are matched up with a driver, right?  So, someone tell me how that works.


  • New Jersey.  

    It's definitely not all drivers though.  I have a friend who has high enough acceptance rate and low enough cancellation, but he never got the invitation.  

    So it must be a slow roll out.  


  • I got an email from Uber about this. Unlike Uber who just starts random experiments without notifying anyone, they actually seem to be notifying the drivers.  I have a few buddies who also received the privilege as well.

    That is correct that you must have at least 85% Acceptance Rate and below 5% Cancellation Rate.

    It seems to be for every ride.  It's wonderful.


  • Seatbelt laws are determined at the state level, so you are right that you should be paying attention to your own state's laws for sure. 

    Front seat passengers all must wear seatbelts in all states (including DC) except in New Hampshire. ("Live free or die!")  My passengers 95% of the time sit in the back, but I suppose I should be worried about people who sit in the front.  (Usually when there are more than 3 people in a group.)

    However, the more important questions are a) whether the police can pull you over for that reason alone and b) who gets the tickets. That's different in every state too.


Featured Answers by RPaulson

  • I actually want new drivers to take this as an advice.  Don't pick up crappy riders.  Cancel immediately.

    This technically isn't cancelling a ride mid-ride, but I went to the mall to go pick up this woman on a Thursday night.  There was some traffic and some confusion as to which exit she was waiting.  When I pulled up, she started berating me for being late and started to nag.  I knew this would be a $5.00 1-star ride.   So you know what I did?  I told her to get out of the car and cancelled it. Don't need this crap.

    Why is this a good advice?  Because if you don't start the ride, those crappy passengers cannot give you a 1-star rating.