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Ask An Uber Driver: Is Bringing A Bunch Of Bags With You A Dick Move?

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Mo' bags, mo' Uber problems (Photo by Ollyy via Shutterstock)
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I'm Lexus Jones. I have a regular full-time job but on the weekends and occasional weeknights I drive for Uber. Over the last couple of years I have driven over 2,000 trips for Uber. At first I drove on the UberX platform. Now I drive a luxury car on the Uber Plus platform. Whenever I think that I have seen it all, something new happens. I will be sharing those stories here. I will also answer questions and give advice on how to get the most out of your rides.

Omar M. asks:

I am a very active user of Uber and other ridesharing apps. I often travel alone but I sometimes do carry several bags with me. I was wondering what is an acceptable amount of things to carry? This is a burning question, especially since I use Uber Pool a lot since it is "1-2 people" and it is cheaper.

Dear Omar,

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I see you have a UCLA email address. If you are taking "several bags" from UCLA to LAX, I hate to say it, but it's sort of a dick move to take Uber Pool because if there is another stop with two other passengers and they both have two big bags, it's going to get mighty crowded in that Prius.

The average fare from UCLA to LAX is about $25. With Uber Pool you're only going to save about $5-$7, so if you really have more than one bag you might want to do the karmically-correct thing and just get an Uber X.

However, we have all been starving students at one point, so I will give you some advice that no other Uber driver will. If you're really that strapped for cash and you are going from Westwood to the airport, why not consider the FlyAway bus? It's nearly as fast as an Uber, it's non-stop, and it's only $10. It picks up at UCLA parking structure 32. Have one of your friends drive you that half mile and enjoy the $15 Lexus Jones just saved you.

David L. asks:

I bought a car to drive Uber, (I know the main arguments for and against already), but what about the factors related to driving on different platforms [like Uber X vs. Uber Select, etc.]? Please compare your experiences using the different platforms. How much money do you make and spend; what's the physical comfort for you and the riders; and what about schedules—that is, does one get more daytime execs and fewer late-night parties than the others? I guess you get fewer pings [with Uber Select], but make more per trip. How often do you make more per hour [with Uber Select]? I almost got a 2013 Avalon hybrid, but went with a '13 Prius as an entry level move. I can upgrade later, if it's worth it, but is it worth it? Should I upgrade ASAP? Thanks!

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Dear David,

I am in a lot of Uber forums online. In many of them, bragging drivers post their pay summaries where they made over $1,000 in a week. But when you look at their numbers closely, these drivers are often doing lots and lots of trips to make that sort of change. Even those top Uber X drivers are only making $11-$12 an hour.

Uber Plus drivers (now called Uber Select) make more than that in an hour, but it's far fewer pings, as you call them. It's a very different hustle. If you get a ride from UCLA to LAX, as described above, you can make a $40-$50 fare, but your cut is really only about $32 because Uber takes a higher commission for some reason from Uber Select rides. Also, luxury cars tend to get about half of the gas mileage that your Prius gets. That fact cannot be ignored since we are paying actual money for our gas.

The only way for Uber Select drivers to make $20+ an hour is if they drive a combination of Uber Select and Uber X rides, but it's risky because if you take those students from Westwood to Culver City for a low rate, you may have missed out on taking someone from Bel Air to DTLA for a high rate. You are constantly questioning every X ride with, "Is this worth it for me?" and, "Will I be able to get a Select call quickly from where I am dropping these people off?"

The Uber Select passenger is mellower, more professional, doesn't care which route you take, and cleaner, but they are also not as fun or frequent. The Uber X passenger typically has great energy, goes further distances, and the rides come one after another. Because you have a relatively new vehicle and because Uber X will soon be able to pick up from LAX, I would recommend to stick with X for now because your expenses are the lowest of any Uber platform and the amount of calls are the highest. On very good days you will make about $17 an hour, which isn't a ton, but it's consistent. The other platforms are a trickier game with a lot of competition.

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Lexus will answer your questions. So leave them in the comments below or e-mail us at tips@laist.com. Follow Lexus on Twitter at @uberlexus

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