The Value of Uber

Uber

Uber *finally* made it out to Montana, and college students couldn’t be happier; well, most college students. This rideshare company makes it easy to get on-demand transportation at nearly any hour of the day. All you have to do is download the app on your phone, enter your credit card and contact information, and share your location with the application. From there, you can request a ride with a few simple taps. Although prices are still relatively high per ride in Montana, Uber is known to be a great alternative to the drag of trying to get a sober friend to drive you around to and from different bars all night. However, a friend of mine brought up his two cents about Uber, offering a different opinion on the company. He said it was an awful company to work for and support, because of the wages they pay their workers, which don’t include compensation for gas prices. He also expressed his deep concerns for the local taxi companies who allegedly will go out of business after Uber arrives in their towns. The more people I talked to and research I did, I found these claims were expressed pretty regularly.

I decided to ask a few friends who have worked for Uber, to see what their response to these claims are. When I asked how they liked working for the company, the responses I got were pretty positive. All of them had good experiences with Uber, besides a bad passenger from time to time. Going into the job, they understood that they would have to cover their own gas prices and vehicle repairs. Most of them work for Uber part time, to earn extra income. This is the case for Henry*, Daniel, and Brad*.

Henry, a resident of Kentucky says he drives with Uber to make some extra cash on the side. He works odd night shift hours at the airport, and when he is done, he isn’t up for going to work part time for another job. Instead, he is able to pick up a few people before and after his work shifts, and make, on average, about $50 extra for the day. With this extra money, he is now able to pay for his three children’s taekwondo lessons, which he was struggling to pay for before he started working with Uber.

Daniel, a Montana man, also works part time for Uber. He is totally OK with paying for vehicle maintenance and gas, because most of the time, his vehicle is used for his personal need anyway, which is likely the case for many other drivers who work for the company. He said that for Montana, it’s a great alternative to the regulated monopoly taxi services. Uber allows for more competition to give Montanans safe rides home. An example of this can be seen with rates per ride. Uber rates change immediately with demands, while taxi rates can only be changed with Public Service Commission’s (PSC) approval, which isn’t fair. He also suggested that if someone thinks that the Uber isn’t getting paid enough, then do your part and leave the driver a good tip.

Brad drives with Uber in Colorado and isn’t the biggest fan of the business. He told me his main concern was that he wasn’t making enough money with them, so he now drives with Lyft instead. It was as simple as that; he didn’t like it, so he didn’t drive with them anymore.

Although these are only three people I interviewed on the topic, I thought they gave some pretty insightful things to think about. At the end of the day, if you don’t like the company, don’t work for them, and don’t support them. Go as you were before, and get a ride from your friend, or use an alternate form of transportation. If Uber really is an awful company, as some suggest, they will go out of business. Naturally, this will happen if the company is failing its customers and employees. Let the market decide.

*Names changed

(Article originally posted on The Odyssey Online)

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