We do know that driving for Uber or other ride-hailing platforms has many advantages such as flexibility and family-friendly hours. However, there are downs and cons to the job too. On that testimony published by the website of the newspaper Metro, an Uber Executive driver is describing his experience of the job.
As an Uber driver, I have mixed emotions on TfL’s refusal to give the company a new licence to operate in London.
On the one hand, I’m sad. As a self-employed driver, losing a platform to work on – regardless of how low it pays – isn’t good.
If Uber loses its licence completely, I don’t know how I would cover my expenses and sustain my family.
On the other, maybe losing its licence will make Uber realise that it can’t treat its workers like worthless slaves, and that their money cannot buy safety and integrity.
I’ve been driving for Uber for over two years, initially as a part time job working alongside a full time office position.
I needed the extra income as my wife stopped working when we realised our son had autism.
But having two jobs just didn’t work. I barely got to spend any time with my family, so I chose to work for Uber full time for the flexibility it offered.
In the beginning my income wasn’t bad but month on month it dropped as TFL and Uber kept recruiting more and more drivers.
I’m an Uber Executive driver which is the high end, premium ride service of Uber. The earnings are far better than driving for Uber X but Uber have flooded the market with new Uber Exec drivers making it difficult to earn.
I work with other cab operators and app platforms and maximise every opportunity I can, but there are not many operators out there who hold the same market share as Uber.
The passengers are also becoming worse, especially people I pick up intoxicated at night. Their behaviour ranges from abrupt and rude to overly demanding.
I even got called a ‘ch**k’ because I didn’t have a cable to play one group’s music. I used to provide cables as standard but passengers end up breaking them, and I went through three cables in six months.
I provided water that passengers drank then threw the empty bottles on the floor.
I believe some of this happens because Uber gave them rights to feel entitled: the fares are so low, some commuters have replaced using the bus to grab a daily Uber. I’ve spoken to some customers who said that Uber is cheaper than owning a car.
The minimum fare is £5 and after Uber takes 25 per cent commission, drivers like me are left with £3.75. In London traffic, this fare might take 45 minutes to complete – what with driving to the customer, collection and drop off. Factor in tax, fuel and vehicle expenses, and there is hardly anything left.
The fault does not lie with Uber alone, however – TfL have a large part to play in this mess.
TfL issues private hire licences to all the drivers – which can cost over £600 – and has access to background checks performed by the Disclosure and Debarring Service (DBS). They are the ones responsible for all the cowboy drivers and criminals on the road, yet they are pointing fingers at Uber.
There should be concrete standards in place and a cap should be put on the amount of drivers they issue licences to.
TfL have made thousands from Uber drivers yet are quick to punish us for their own mistakes. It was only recently they were forced to investigate claims that private hire drivers were buying their qualifications and working fraudulently.
Both TfL and Uber have abused the system, and now TfL has just cut us off. The detrimental effect won’t just be on drivers but on how the general public move around the city.
Uber can be a vital resource for people with disabilities who rely on car travel and is a safe option for people travelling alone or late at night.
Uber absolutely have to act immediately to fix any systemic issues that put passengers at risk and new safety measures must be put in place.
Yet in the meantime, responsible, registered drivers are having their livelihood put at risk and as vulnerable as the public are, so are drivers.
We are abused and threatened by the public, criticised by the black cab trade and now we are the victims of a monopolising business that cares nothing of its drivers.
It is a tough job with so much to contend with already, and now my livelihood is under threat.