A Day in the Life Of Your Uber Driver

With no ability to access trip time, trip duration, or estimated pay per service, Uber drivers are left at the mercy of the app.

Alice C. Minium

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(Photo Illustration Courtesy of Matt Rota)

Jesse Pike was laid off from his job as a performer last year. In the interim, he’s picked up a part-time job as an Uber and Lyft driver. Well, it’s not exactly part-time. He works 55 hours a week.

When I call an Uber on my phone, here’s what I imagine:

The driver gets the request. They show up. They take me to my destination. Then they get on with their life. My trip took 12 minutes, so they worked for 12 minutes, right? My $7.32 fare is great income for that.

Here’s what actually happens.

I put in a request for an Uber on my phone. Jesse receives my request, and accepts it. He could be 5 minutes away, or he could be 30 minutes away. He drives 20 minutes to your destination. He then waits 5 minutes to pick you up.

Only once you get in his car does he find out where you are going. When he accepts the trip, he has no idea if it’s for a 3-minute ride, or a 30-minute one. It’s basically a gamble.

Once he starts the trip, he’s given the address of your destination within the app. He then starts driving. Sometimes you need to stop along the way. Sometimes you’re stuck in traffic. During this time, Jesse gets paid 11 cents a minute.

Once you finally arrive at your destination, sometimes you don’t know where the place is exactly, so you text your friends, or are unsure if you want to get out of the car. Jesse waits until you figure it out. Sometime it’s difficult to find.

Once you get out of the car, Jesse ends the trip. Jesse then has to drive back to wherever he was planning on waiting for rides, or drive 15 minutes away to the location of the next trip.

In total, a 12 minute trip can actually take the driver 45 minutes of labor and driving from start to finish. Jesse then receives his pay for the fare, minus Uber’s approximately 39% cut.

“I had a 45-minute trip I made $6 from once, and that’s not even including how long it took me to get there…

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Alice C. Minium

Richmond-based writer, investigative researcher, and police abolitionist. Contact me at alice@openoversightva.org.