Seeking some extra cash and loving to drive, I decided to become a driver for Uber, the ride-sharing service.
I had heard about it on an Econ Talk podcast where they interviewed the guy from the “Y Combinator” (a small business incubator) about this Uber company. I’ve used things like Blablacar and Zimride before for a long-distance trip, but this was new. I passed the background and DMV checks, and got the standard iPhone.
What the Heck is Uber?
Tonight was essentially my foray into a low level taxi driving. Errr…uh… I mean “Ride-sharing.” ….. but better. Ride Sharing is where people give each other rides in exchange for money. In this case, the transaction is facilitated by smart-phone apps. Ever call a cab on a Friday night in the city? It takes at least 15 minutes to arrive. My average tonight was 5. It’s also less expensive than taking a regular taxi or so I heard tonight from my customers. To be honest, I don’t think it’s much less, but it’s a much better service.
Preparation For The First Night
Today I had to vacuum and wash my car, so that cost a bit. I spent money on food ( not being home to cook) and drinks. I purchased some water bottles, cookies and gum to offer to riders. They seemed to appreciate that. It’s a good way to keep a 5 star rating (which by the way is pretty much the rating that you have to have).
This was many of my riders’ first time using Uber. That means it’s catching on more and more, which is good for business.
My first riders were two girls to the train station to catch the bus up to Washington DC. Nice girls. Easy ride, minus the evening traffic.
My second was taking a rider from North Richmond to Henrico to see her friend perform comedy at some sort of biker bar. I missed the freeway exit, did some weird stuff with the GPS again ,and passed the bar. I felt so terrible because it was increasing the miles on her. I’m sure it wasn’t much more (like 10 cents) but still!
On a fourth fare, a group of girls that I picked up on Franklin celebrating their graduation from Dental school, I tried to zoom on a map to find out that girls’ cross street and made the app say that I had arrived when I hadn’t. I had to call the girl to find them. Then, when I finally got there, the Uber app on my Uber-issued iPhone froze and crashed! I drove them roughly 1 mile down the street and dropped them off at a restaurant in Shockoe Bottom.
Then the Uber app restarted.
Then there was a guy who was going to get a video from the video store, pick up a pizza, and have a chill night in. Then his car breaks down, so I took him to get the pizza and took him to his house. He said he would get his car tomorrow. Their was also the “bros” from UofR and the group of girls going to “the club.”
I made out okay. I didn’t lose money. I worked 4.5 hours and what I made equates to about $6/hour, which is after I account for upfront costs I had to get my car washed, which was about due anyway. I bought bottled water. And I probably bought more drinks and snacks than I should have. I won’t make that mistake again.
I think it’s a worthy endeavor for the spare time. I have a feeling if I worked from around 9 PM to 3 or 4 AM on Friday and Saturday that I could make major bucks. I can’t because it conflicts with the Richmond Tour Guys Walking Tour, Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 AM meeting near 500 Tredegar St. by the river in Richmond.
Yeah… I’m a bit of a shameless promoter.