How Your Uber Driver Really Feels About Long Rides
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.
Riders aren't the only ones excited that Uber will be allowed to pick them up from LAX. It's the dawning of a new day for drivers looking forward to the glory of The Long Trip.
Because fares have dropped so drastically over the last few years, so have the earnings for the drivers. You may remember Uber advertising on Facebook "Earn up to $90,000 a year driving for Uber!" Each month those ads continued but promised less and less as time went on. Now they say "Earn up to $12 an hour." But with LAX opening up for all platforms of the ride-sharing platform (Uber Black and Uber SUV have always been able to pick up at LAX) many drivers are expecting their paychecks to increase for once.
Currently a ride from Santa Monica to Venice will net the driver less than $5. The same could be said for a trip from Silver Lake to DTLA. After a series of rides like that Uber drivers can get mighty depressed. But a trip from LAX to Echo Park means about a $25 fare, which is much better for your driver's bottom line.
And even that is still chump change for those lucky few who picked up a passenger, started the trip and saw that the destination is an hour away. Tales of $150 and $200 excursions litter Uber message boards online followed by stories as to why the person chose to take an Uber from SF to Sacramento or LA to San Diego instead of taking Southwest or the Metrolink train.Many times either the passenger didn't like flying or missed their train or just needed to get out of town FAST. Sometimes the passengers don't care and find themselves in L.A. needing to get to Orange County and would much rather spend $100 on an Uber instead of $250 on a cab.My first long trip was a few years ago when I drove Middle Eastern teenager from Venice to Newport Beach in the middle of the night. He had spent most of his life in a very religious country where he had lots of money but few freedoms. He was not allowed to drink, smoke, have sex or do most of the things teenagers consider their top priorities—like dance and do drugs. But there he was new to L.A. enjoying his newfound freedom with some of his cousins when his parents called him and told him that they wanted him back at their hotel in the OC immediately. As we drove he told me to take my time and go a longer route than normal. Since the customer is always right, I obliged. Every minute out from under the protective wing of his parents was priceless to him, and I sorta felt sorry for him.
Once I felt sorry for myself when I got a long ride. It was late, I was starting to get a little sleepy, but as I was driving through Hollywood I noticed the surge rates were rising quickly. I was about 10 minutes from my home but I said to myself, "Let's just do one more ride. How bad could it be?"
I got pinged outside the Music Box and they wanted to go to Long Beach. Long Beach?!! Fine. They were nice, buzzed, and buzzing from the concert they had just attended and their positive energy rubbed off on me and picked me up. But the downfall of long trips is now you're in Long Beach at 1 a.m. You can do one of two things: see if the next few rides brings you closer to LA (and hope they don't take you further from your bed) or suck it up and drive home empty.
Because Murphy's Law is real when you drive, that night I got back on the freeway and called it a night.
Even though Uber rarely does anything beneficial for drivers, there are some things it could do (if it wanted) to make the experience better for us.
Often passengers type in their destination as they are summoning the car, though drivers don't see their destination until the ride has already begun. But let's say I was in Long Beach and I wanted to only accept rides headed north. Uber could easily offer that option on the app. How do we know it would be an easy thing? Because Lyft has it. It would be a win win for both Uber and the driver because this way there's one more car on the road for the company to pimp out, and the driver would make a few extra bucks on the way home.
Another thing Uber could do is have an option for drivers to only accept rides that were less than 4-5 miles. That way when the concert let out, it would have given the Long Beach ride to another driver and allowed me to accept the short trip.
Uber swears it is a technology company and not a transportation company, so we will see if they implement this type of smart technology.
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