10 May, 2015

I was an undercover Uber driver :: Cover :: Philadelphia City Paper

I was an undercover Uber driver :: Cover :: Philadelphia City Paper:

Until the week this article published, the only numbers Uber would
discuss were gross fares — that's the total amount drivers bring in, not
the lower amount they end up with after expenses and Uber takes its
percentage. On top of that, Uber employs different rates in different
areas. Taking an UberX in the Hamptons is vastly more expensive than in
the lowest-rate areas like Nashville, Providence and L.A. Philly started
out on the higher end of the rates spectrum in October. But as the PPA
stings died off and more drivers felt safe picking up passengers within
the city limits, fares were cut in January to somewhere in the middle of
the pack.

Uber spokeswoman Kaitlin Durkosh declined to discuss how the Philly
rate cuts affected driver take-home pay — well, she didn't decline,
exactly, she just answered a different question: "What we've seen from
lower UberX prices in Philly, is that there is greater demand for rides.
In the four weeks since the price cut, weekly request [sic] are up 47

I talked to lots of drivers. But few kept a meticulous enough log of
hours worked, miles driven and expenses paid that I felt comfortable
using their data alone. Many drivers worried about getting in trouble,
too — Uber can "deactivate" a driver for any reason. I needed someone on
the record, someone whose data I knew I could trust.

So, in January, I applied to be an UberX driver myself.