“An investigation into Uber’s revenue sharing, drivers’ dwindling earnings, and looming threats from autonomous vehicles”
As the Uber car rolled through the streets of Palo Alto, California, en route to San Francisco, my driver, Abdulah, shared a fascinating account of his life behind the wheel. Abdulah, like thousands of others, drives for Uber to earn his livelihood.
In the car, an Uber iPhone’s app dashboard reveals pertinent information, but what caught my attention was the difference between what I, as a passenger, was billed and what Abdulah earned. For this trip, I was charged $51.99 + $7.79 tips, total 59.78 but Abdulah’s cut was $30.93 with my tips. A quick calculation shows that this is a staggering 41% taken by Uber, and not the 25% they used to advertise.
Lets go over this not so simple math again, I was charged a total of $59.78 for my Uber trip. However, what caught my attention was the stark difference, almost 50% between the amount I paid and the earnings of the driver, Abdulah(driver name). Abdulah’s cut for the trip, including my tip of $7.79, was only $30.93. This raises serious concerns about the fairness of Uber’s commission structure.
To understand this further, let’s break down the numbers. Uber charged me $51.99 for the trip, which included the trip fare of $41.55, a marketplace fee of $10.00, a $0.10 access for all fee, and a $0.39 CA Driver Benefit Fee. In addition, I voluntarily added a tip of $7.79 to show appreciation for Abdulah’s service.
Now, let’s consider two scenarios. In the first scenario, if we subtract Abdulah’s earnings (including the tip) from the total fare I paid, we find that Uber’s commission was approximately $28.85. This means that Uber took around 48% of the total fare, including the tip.
In the second scenario, if we exclude the tip from the calculation and only consider the fare amount of $51.99, Uber’s commission is approximately $21.06. This accounts for around 41% of the fare, excluding the tip.
Both scenarios reveal a significant disparity between the actual commission Uber took and their advertised 25% commission. This raises questions about the transparency and accuracy of Uber’s promises to their drivers.
It is crucial for Uber to address these concerns and provide drivers with a fair and transparent commission structure. Drivers deserve to know how their earnings are calculated and ensure that they are being compensated properly for their services.
In conclusion, the numbers clearly demonstrate that Uber’s commission is far from the promised 25%. This discrepancy highlights the need for greater transparency and fairness within the ridesharing industry, ensuring that both passengers and drivers are treated equitably in the process.
But the disquieting revelations don’t end there. Uber has cloaked its practices in shadows. Once able to see what the passenger was charged, drivers are now left in the dark. Abdulah shares, “There was a time we could see it, but now we can’t see it.” One passenger revealed she was charged $11 for a ride, of which Abdulah saw only $4. That’s an alarming 63% cut taken by Uber.
Abdulah paints an enticing picture of how drivers like him used to make money. He says, “So what, what you’re saying is that during the pandemic you could have made like pretty much $20,000 driving a month in San Francisco? Like for three, four months.” But then it hit rock bottom – “after four months, you couldn’t make 2000 the whole month.” Now, if you work 60 or more hours a week, “you can make 1,000-2000 per week,” he estimates.
The winds of change are not just affecting earnings but also harboring a storm in the form of autonomous vehicles. Abdulah seems apprehensive: “Obviously everyone is self-threatened. What do you think about it? Like it’s a platform business. There are people, they just want, you know, those cars, they’re wishing for those cars to have accidents. So the government stops them working.”
He mentions Cruz, a self-driving car service in San Francisco. According to Abdulah, people initially used Cruz a lot, but after a few accidents, it’s no longer popular. When I ask if he feels threatened by these self-driving cars, his expression turns somber. “Obviously, everyone is threatened. Uber drivers don’t want autonomous vehicles to become popular, just like how taxi drivers didn’t want Uber.”
This eye-opening conversation with Abdulah begs the question: Is Uber exploiting drivers in a quest to maximize profits, especially in the face of a looming revolution in the form of Robotaxis?
As the company maneuvers through the ever-evolving landscape of the transportation industry, the drivers who were once the backbone of Uber’s success are seemingly getting a smaller piece of the pie.
Uber has had an undeniable impact on the way we commute, but at what cost? With a workforce teetering on the edge, and the robotaxi revolution accelerating, it’s imperative to analyze and address the economic disparities faced by the drivers.
In the midst of rapid technological advancements, there must be a commitment to fairness, transparency, and accountability, not just in revenue sharing but in ensuring the well-being of those who were crucial to Uber’s success.
As the streets of San Francisco whizz past, Abdulah’s words are a reminder of the human element that is often overshadowed by the relentless pace of progress. The need of the hour is a reassessment of values and a steadfast commitment to equitable growth.
This isn’t just about one driver; it’s about thousands of Abdulahs whose livelihoods depend on the wheels they steer. Their fortunes and misfortunes are a reflection of the broader transportation ecosystem, and it is high time that their voices are heard and accounted for.