I went on 11 rides with 11 randomly picked Uber drivers to see how much they’re paid and how they like driving for Uber.
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It seemed as good a chance as any to get to the heart of Uber's rapidly growing business, one that has already transformed the transportation industry in just a few years, so I took Josh up on the offer and took 11 rides with 11 randomly chosen Uber drivers and obtained eight out of 11 of the drivers' pay statements — two drivers who spoke on the record were not comfortable with showing me their pay statements and Uber did not provide pay statements for the last driver.
As is common with ride-sharing services, throughout my 11 rides, the work schedule varied considerably for each driver. Most were part-time by their definition (working two to three days out of the week or only a few hours each day), three were students attempting to pay their way through college, one had been with Uber since it arrived in New York, three just started driving for Uber in the week before I rode with them, one was renting his car through Uber's fleet partnerships program, and another was renting his car from his father. The youngest drivers were 21. The oldest were over 40.
The eight drivers netted hourly wages of $ 15.22, $ 21.17, $ 27.54, $ 32.90, $ 36.88, $ 37.12, and $ 38.25 — not including one-time referral or sign up bonuses or one-time deductions. They worked between 5.78 and 42.65 hours per week. Overall, their combined hourly wage during this time was $ 31.61 (BuzzFeed News has uploaded its aggregated driver payment information here).
All of this seems to verify, if not surpass, the data that Uber touted in a September blog post, comparing this past September's average net wages to the two previous Septembers' (before Uber put in place a fare cut that made Uber X cheaper than taxis). According to Uber, drivers netted an average of $ 25.00 an hour with an average of 1.3 rides per hour.
These net wages, however, don't take into account bridge tolls, car insurance, or other costs of being a driver. Subtracting only minimum insurance, rent (when appropriate), and tolls in the case of one driver who drives to and from New Jersey, the drivers' combined hourly wage weighted by how many hours they worked was approximately $ 21.95. Though it's not a far cry from what Uber claims their drivers pay on average per hour, it's important to note that this is still before accounting for other weekly driver expenses such as gas, car payments, car maintenance and wear and tear.
The initial net income only reveals one aspect of the Uber driver pay structure, one that's been complicated by an huge influx of part-time drivers. Many of these drivers identify as part time because they either do not work every day of the week or only work a specific set of hours. Those who only work certain hours typically only go online during the busiest times of day when there is likely to be surge pricing.
For example, Zahidur Rahman, a 21-year-old student and Uber X driver who began working for Uber just a few months before the summer fare cuts, usually only works three nights a week because of classes. On those three nights, based on his pay statements, Rahman typically only works during the evening rush. During his busiest week starting on October 28 and ending on November 2, of the 38 rides Rahman had 15 were during surge pricing which was an average of 1.9 times the usual fare. Seven of those rides were double or more than double the standard fare. Rahman worked 18.57 hours that week, grossed $ 968.61 and took home $ 687.21 after Uber's 20 percent commission, sales tax, black car fund and the $ 10 data fee for their phone.
Between October 20 and October 27 (Rahman's highest grossing of the five weeks of pay statements I obtained), Rahman had 30 rides, 14 of which were surge priced rides and six of those surge priced rides were 2.75 times the fare. That week, Rahman only worked 14.5 hours across three days (the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd), grossed $ 1078.19 and netted $ 771.17.
Compare that to Lahab Alaur's highest grossing and busiest weeks. Alaur started working with Uber about four months ago. Of the drivers I obtained payment statements from Alaur worked the closest to full-time during the five weeks of statements. Twice, Alaur worked more than 40 hours and one week he was just under 40 hours.
Between October 6 and October 11, Alaur worked 42.65 hours, had 54 rides only 3 of which were surge priced, grossed $ 1,336.82, and netted $ 941.17. This was the most hours Alaur worked of the five weeks and he only netted approximately an average of $ 22.06 an hour. During the highest grossing week between October 27 and November 3, on the other hand, Alaur worked 40.1 hours, took 71 rides 16 of which were surge rides, grossed $ 1,870.77 and netted $ 1,333.73. He netted approximately $ 34.24 per hour that week.
Put that next to Rahman's highest grossing week and busiest weeks and you have an interesting comparison:
Rahman (part-time) Highest Grossing Week: 14.5 hours / $ 53.18 per hour
Alaur (full-time) Highest Grossing Week: 40.1 hours / $ 34.24 per hour
Rahman (part-time) Busiest Week: 18.57 hours / $ 37.07 per hour.
Alaur (full-time) Busiest week: 42.65 hours / $ 22.06 per hour
Put simply: Rahman, like many other part-time drivers I spoke to, works fewer but very specific high-income hours and thus makes much more per hour than a typical full-time driver.