Rideshare Experiences for Drivers: The Good & The Bad


(Bick Bhangoo) #1

The real revolution in the rideshare industry came with the advent of app-based cab services, especially that of shared rides such as Uberpool and Lyft Line. With the attached charm of being safe, fast and convenient, a lot of these services rapidly climbed the popularity charts and soon enough, Ubers and Lyfts were all that was on the roads. While all of this is hugely profiting for the companies involved, if there is one group of people which is continually reeling with losses on the work front, it is the rideshare drivers. While they used to go home with big fat paychecks earlier, now they are losing a good portion of their wages to these new schemes, and with each new system targeting the wellness of customers, it seems their interests are being sidelined without much thought or concern. While companies are somewhat vigilant about the rights drivers must have, like total control over the rides they accept, it doesn’t change the fact that compensations are being cut to half, bonuses eliminated and a great many other perks that they have always enjoyed are now left somewhat in the balance. While working for these companies have never been downright tricky, and the work environment has always been pleasant, the truth is that drivers are now getting significantly less than what they initially signed up for.

Today, we try to gain some insights from veteran drivers on what goes down on these rides for the drivers, and on what has changed for them.

Reduced Sign on Bonuses
A couple of years back, cab services were still in their formative years, and companies needed drivers desperately, to fulfill the enormous demands and to satisfy their rapidly growing customer base. As a result, Uber and Lyft offered substantial sign-on bonuses and referral bonuses to new and old drivers alike. The drivers happily signed up, and genuinely received sweet compensations for their hard work. The companies got what they wanted, while the drivers walked away with fat paychecks. It was right for both Uber as well as Lyft. Cut to the present situation, and things have changed drastically. The companies are no longer in urgent need to hire drivers, and thus the payments they offer to drivers have gone down drastically. Even the usual pay has gone down, and bonuses are more or less nonexistent.

Complicated Reward Process
Earlier, drivers were welcome to take home all that they got from their customers; with the rideshare companies themselves demanding absolutely zero commissions. The only condition that drivers had to keep in mind and fulfill was that they had to maintain the acceptance rate of at least 90 percent. Now, the reward process has been made exceedingly complicated and difficult to understand. The companies have started exerting maximum influence over the rides as well as the drivers themselves. All this has drastically affected not just their pay but has, in fact, dampened their spirits as well.

Imposing Shared Rides (Uberpool, Lyft Line)
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) have placed big bets on their shared cab services, and have done all in their power to give them all the boost they can. It means reducing fares to match or even surpass the fares present in other public transport services. However, reduced fares translate to reduced pay for a driver, which means drivers are getting paid less for actually performing a comparably higher amount of work.

No more surges
Surge is a period of high traffic for cab rides when an exceedingly high number of people are looking or expected to wait for cab rides and thus rideshare cab availability at the time goes down. Reduced rideshare cab availability translates to higher prices and therefore, higher pay for drivers. Unfortunately for drivers, surges are now fast disappearing. With rising complaints from customers on the exorbitant prices charged during surge hours, rideshare cab services have now effectively done away with it. While this may be great news for customers, it isn’t so for drivers.

Increased Tips
Lyft has been sort of generous in this account for it has always had an option to allow customers to tip the drivers if they desire. Even Uber has followed suit and incorporated this feature in their app recently. As per veteran drivers, tips remain quite rare for rideshare drivers.

As for other subtle but helpful improvements, the apps now recognize the act of passing through a toll bridge and automatically add up the applicable toll charge in the user’s final trip cost, making it highly convenient for drivers who earlier had to send a receipt to the company for the same. While all of that is well and good, Uber recently made a change in their interface which doesn’t allow drivers to see the pickup address when the request initially arrives, which means they can’t efficiently decide whether they want to take the ride or not.

Jumpy Passengers
John also notices a change in the attitude of customers, who now seem a little more anxious, and a lot less cordial than they used to be earlier. It could be because smartphones have managed to take up most of our time now, not leaving any time for casual, pleasant conversations.

Although as far as drivers talking to their customers is concerned, the companies are no longer as strict as they used to be about drivers badmouthing their businesses, and are not sacking drivers merely because they were caught saying something unpleasant about the company.

Fascinating Message Boards
Although, technology has proven to be quite interesting and helpful in some aspects, for veteran rideshare drivers online communities dedicated solely to drivers are now profoundly engrossing and are an excellent platform for exchanging stories.

Looking at the points stated above, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the situation for drivers in TNCs has undoubtedly changed for the worse. For every bit of improvement, five other aspects have worsened. It’s surprising to note that for a group of people who have managed to make lives exponentially better with their skills, drivers are facing surprisingly bleak and disheartening situations. With stricter schemes that leave little to no room for bonuses and complicated rules that make little sense, it would be safe to say that drivers are having a tough time at TNCs.


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