Uber made $6.5 billion last year

Uber released last year’s profit and loss statement to Bloomberg News. It shows that they grossed $20 billion in fares for the year. Considering that Uber drivers, working as independent contractors, take 75% of fares, that would mean Uber should have netted $5 billion in profits based on fares last year. Instead, they report that their net profit was $6.5 billion.

How can that be? Because Uber doesn’t split fares with drivers 75/25. Not really.

As an Uber driver in the Hagerstown area of Maryland, I make the following:

  • $1.50 in a base fare
  • $.15 a minute
  • $1.10 per mile

Uber then slices 25% off that total and then gives me the other 75%. But that’s not all of what Uber makes. They also charge the passenger a booking fee. That booking fee is not split with the driver. What is a booking fee? From Uber’s website:

The booking fee is a separate flat fee added to every trip that helps support safety initiatives for riders and drivers as well as other operational costs. Previously known as the safe rides fee, your booking fee will appear in your trip receipt.

As a driver, I cannot wait for those safety initiatives to kick in. It should be exciting to see what they are. I feel safer just thinking about it. I feel like someone put a helmet on my head, a mint flavored mouth piece in my mouth, and wrapped me in bubble wrap.

The booking fee in Hagerstown, Maryland is $2. It doesn’t matter how long the ride is, each rider pays a flat two bucks to be picked up in the Hagerstown area.

I was online with Uber for 2 hours and 1 minute on Wednesday. I got only one (1) ride request, and that was at the beginning of my shift. I took home $7.06 for the nine minute ride. According to the Uber’s fare calculator, the rider paid anywhere from $10 to $14. For most of the two hours and one minute, I was sitting in the Target parking lot reading the new John Scalzi novel on my Kindle. I had the windows down and there was a nice breeze going on. The book, The Collapsing Empire, is quite good. At least the first one hour and 45 minutes of it.

I actually enjoy driving for Uber. Most of the time that is. I just wish I spent more time driving and less time reading on my Kindle. I feel like Uber tries to saturate markets with new drivers.  Instead of trying to retain the drivers it has, it’s always trying to sign new drivers. That’s why they are always offering new driver bonuses. On one hand, I can see why they do it. Uber never knows when it will have any number of drivers ready to pickup Uber riders. It’s not like we have shifts.

We work when we want to.

Buy The Collapsing Empire on Amazon

Lyft adopts clear policy on service animals

Lyft has followed Uber in making it crystal clear that its drivers need to accommodate riders with service animals. As a driver, you cannot refuse service to someone because they are accompanied by a service animal. Uber made you agree to their service animal policy when you logged into the Driver app. Lyft sent out an email to its drivers that explained the policy.

Here’s the meat of the email:

Lyft adopts clear policy on service dogs - Bent Corner
Neither Lyft or Uber is doing anything outrageous here. It appears they’re just following federal law, specifically, the Americans with Disabilities Act. That said, I do think some people abuse the law and pretend their pet dog is their service animal, that their pet dog assists them in some way. You see people in stores with dogs all the time that are not trained service animals. I was at Home Depot a month or so ago and a young woman had a pit bull with her. The dog was not trained in any way. She could not control it. I’m sure the employees at Home Depot have been trained not to challenge anyone when they’re accompanied by a dog, no matter how ridiculous it looks.

I’m not a dog person. Not really. It’s not that I hate dogs. I just don’t like animals that bark, growl, or bite. It just so happens that dogs bark, growl, and bite. Dogs kill people all the time.

That doesn’t mean I would ever refuse a rider who was accompanied by a dog, whether it was a service animal or not a service animal. I drove an Uber passenger down to Washington D.C. a while back who was accompanied by his cocker spaniel and it was one of the best rides I ever had. The dog was a total gentleman. He didn’t bark, growl, or bite me, so I had no problems with him. If all dogs were like cocker spaniels, I would probably be a dog person.

Why people hate driving for Uber

I decided to drive for Uber today. I went out this afternoon and ended up taking only three trips. The second trip irritated me. Not the trip, but the way Uber handled it.

Uber sent me a notification that there was a rider at the Hagerstown Walmart. I accepted the trip and drove to Walmart. The rider sent me a text message telling me which entrance he was at. I got there and helped him put his bags in the car. I began the trip and I learned from the Uber Driver app that he wanted to go to Greencastle, Pennsylvania. It was around 11 miles away.

I got on Interstate 81 and began driving up to Greencastle. The rider asked if I would mind stopping at a convenience store before we got to his destination. No problem. When I pulled off the interstate at his exit, I stopped at the convenience store he wanted to go to. I waited about five minutes while he bought whatever he wanted to buy. He came back out to the car and I drove him to his destination.

As soon as I dropped him off and completed the trip, I put the Uber Driver app in offline mode. I was in Pennsylvania. With a car registered in Maryland, I knew I could only begin Uber rides in Maryland, Washington DC, and Deleware.

As soon as I got back south of the Mason-Dixon line, I tried to put the Uber Driver app back in online mode. It wouldn’t let me. It said I was in an area that I wasn’t registered with Uber to drive. I was back in Hagerstown at this point. I went ahead and rebooted my iPhone. That allowed me to bring up the Uber Driver app and go online.

It still didn’t show how much I made from my last trip. I didn’t worry about it because I know sometimes it can take a while for trips to be tabulated. I took another trip and decided to call it a day. It annoyed me that my trip up to Greencastle still wasn’t showing in my earnings report.

I stopped by the grocery store, bought a few things, and went home.

Once I got home, I checked Uber and they’re still processing my second trip. How many hours will it take? I’m sure the fact that the trip took me to Pennsylvania made things more complicated for Uber, but Uber sent me there. They should have the ability to calculate trips from the Hagerstown Walmart to Greencastle. People from Greencastle routinely shop at the Hagerstown Walmart.

Uber needs to focus on improving their basic software and the ability to process trips in a quick and accurate manner instead of trying to build a fleet of soulless robot cars with reportedly stolen software.