Going to the airport this morning, I took a Lyft for $46. It us usually less, but it was rush hour, and still less than a taxi (usually $65) and more reliable than a taxi. The driver was cheerful, been driving for Lyft/Uber for a year and a half, and it was in a Chevy Bolt, so we were driving an electric car. I got there before it predicted, and all was good.
But I looked at the driver’s phone after we got out and it showed she made $23. Yikes. This does not seem fair.
The driver said that after Uber and Lyft went public, the “take” they were taking from the drivers went up.
50% is too high a fee for Lyft. The only higher fees I know are what book publishers take from authors.
From my perspective and possibly flawed analysis, this is fully expected. Here’s how I break it down.
The investors threw billions of dollars at Uber/Lyft to get them going. They got their payback when Uber/Lyft went public, by duping (in my opinion) the stock market during the IPO.
Now the stock market, as a whole, still demands that companies make profit year over year, and that the profits should generally increase over time. Why, I don’t know, because I get the impression that many companies don’t really pay dividends anymore and expect investors to win by the stock price going up.
Continuing, Uber/Lyft haven’t been profitable yet. They have three ways to make more money: Raise rates, Cut Profits, Squeeze the Drivers.
They can’t raise rates, because then no one will use them and they’ll just hail a passing cab. And they can’t cut profits, because the market will hammer them on stock price. So they have no choice but to squeeze that profit out of the driver…. which will ultimately discourage people from driving for them. In fact, I think some people are wising up to the fact that the “gig economy” is unsustainable.
Personally, I don’t like Uber/Lyft. They damaged the lives of a lot of people (cab drivers, especially in NYC) by “disrupting” the system (read: cheating), and they are funneling a lot money out of the local economy into someone else’s pockets (and not even investors, but corporate owners.) They are causing an increase in traffic in many cities, as well. And I won’t even get started on the personal annoyance of a random car stopping in front of you in the middle of the street.
In the long run, I don’t see Uber/Lyft competing with cab companies. And I plan to hasten that demise by taking cabs wherever I can. I live in the suburb of a large metro area and hailing a cab with their website is about as fast as calling an Uber or Lyft.
When I was putting myself through school back in the 80’s and 90’s I had a hack license in NYC (a cabbie license not a license to hack). I drove black sedans for a company doing airport runs. It was good work and flexible enough to work alongside my studies. The split was 50/50 and I had to pay for my gas, but the big difference was that I drove their equipment so I didn’t have to cover the insurance, maintenance and depreciation on the vehicle. In the uber / lyft model where the driver carries those vehicle costs, the driver should also earn more money to cover that risk.