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The Call-In: Working For Ride-Hailing Companies

Our listeners who drive for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft share their stories about what it’s like to work for these companies.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I’m Lulu Garcia-Navarro.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: And this is The Call-In, our segment where you tell us what you’re thinking. Ride-hailing companies, like Uber and Lyft, can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. As they’ve grown, they’ve clashed with city governments and regulators while transforming the way people work and get around.

A recent survey of Lyft and Uber drivers showed that they’re making less money these days because companies have cut the prices of the rides. We wanted to hear about what it’s like to drive for these companies, so we asked you to share your stories.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Hello. Good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Hi, this is...

DAVID CURRY: Morning, my name is David Curry (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: I live in New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: And I am calling you from the Middle Tennessee area. I’ve been driving for Uber since September.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: I drive for Lyft. And...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: I’m sitting here, fishing for my next passenger.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #6: I usually drive for two to four hours in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #7: I met a lot of people. I heard a lot of stories, and I drove to so many places I haven’t driven to before.


JACK CARDOZA: Hi, my name’s Jack Cardoza (ph). I’ll be 69 April 1.

JOHN CHARETTE: My name is John Charette (ph). I’m 23 years old. I live in Ann Arbor, Mich.

COURTNEY GOMEZ: My name is Courtney Gomez (ph). I am 32. I’m from Los Angeles, Calif., and I drive for Uber. And I’m a mom and a student.

CARDOZA: I was trying to step into the internet marketing, but I didn’t quite have enough wherewithal to do it yet. So I was kind of in a economic downturn of my own.

CHARETTE: I just graduated college in December. I was looking for a way to make some money while I’m looking for some more long-term employment and waiting to hear back about grad schools.

GOMEZ: I was a housekeeper and I was working, like, 50 hours a week. And I was having to pay a babysitter to take care of my kids. And my husband had been working, like, multiple jobs. And he was like, I think I’m going to start working for Uber. So I quit that job, and he was making enough so that I was able to stay home with the girls.

ALEXANDER KRAMER: My full name is Alexander Kramer (ph). I live in Ferndale, Mich.

TINA HERRERA: Hi, my name is Tina Herrera (ph). I live in Los Angeles, Calif., and I’m calling because I drive for Lyft.

KRAMER: While it’s less reliable on paper, in practice, it is definitely just as reliable as an hourly job.

HERRERA: Unemployment isn’t enough, and so family members - everybody had given what they could. It was Christmastime, and I was able to make a thousand dollars in a week. And that saved us.

CARDOZA: You know, when you figure it out, it comes out to about $13 an hour.

CHARETTE: I’ve been doing around 12 hours a week and made about 250 bucks.

GREGORY CORTEZ: Hi, my name is Gregory Cortez (ph), and I drive in San Francisco, Calif.

HERRERA: I’ve been doing it ever since, and my husband does it as well. There are definitely pros and cons.

CORTEZ: And I saw the ads that said, make $35 an hour. Oh, that’s great, you know? So I went ahead and signed up. I’ve been driving for them for about 16 weeks, and basically my salary has been going down ever since.

CHARETTE: I can have a ride that lasts 15-plus minutes and then they may not even tip me, and I made about $2.

GOMEZ: On New Year’s Eve or on Halloween, he would easily (inaudible), like $800 because there weren’t as many people doing Uber. But as time went on, like a year later on New Year’s Eve, you made, like, $50. So I started with Uber in 2014.

CHARETTE: You also have to consider the fact you’re putting wear and tear on your car, gas every couple days.

CORTEZ: And the insurance costs and all of the other costs of owning a car. So basically, I made less than minimum wage for San Francisco.

KRAMER: I have had more than a couple of hours where my take-home pay has been more than 20 bucks for an hour.

CARDOZA: And what’s really nice about Uber is I can turn it on or I can turn it off.

GOMEZ: I’m actually in school right now. So I want something to be able to put on, like, a resume after I graduate. And when you put on a resume that you work for Uber, it’s not very impressive. There’s no boss. You put, like, independent contractor. And they’re like, OK, so that doesn’t mean anything.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Those were stories from a small sampling of ride-hailing drivers around the country, and thanks for sharing them.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: And next time on The Call-In, we’ll be talking about the new Republican health care plan. We want to know what your questions are. Is there anything about Medicaid, pre-existing conditions or health savings accounts that you want to know more about? I sure do. What don’t you understand about the proposals? How do you think it will affect your coverage?

Call in at 202-216-9217. Leave us a voicemail with your full name, where you’re from and your question, and we may use it on the air. That number again, 202-216-9217.


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