OFF THE ROAD: Uber driver Marne Prinsloo has not taken rides since the fare cut in February.
OFF THE ROAD: Uber driver Marne Prinsloo has not taken rides since the fare cut in February. Che Chapman

Drivers bear the brunt of Uber fare price cut

EVERYONE loves a bargain but Uber drivers on the Coast are taking the financial hit of fare price cuts.

WadeH wrote on the Daily's website it was unfair to pass the reduction on to drivers.

"It's not fair that Uber keep dropping the rates," he said.

"If they were true to there (sic) work wanting to increase riders they would advertise or spend some of their monies not expect drivers to do so at little pay."

Others have been less sympathetic.

"These drivers are starting to sounds as 'hurt' as the real cabbies were when Uber waltzed into town," Joe Smith said.
 

Drivers to do a U-turn on Uber over fare price fallout

HE THOUGHT he'd be earning at least $30 an hour as an UberX driver, but a Sunshine Coast man who jumped at the chance to drive for the new service is now struggling to make a minimum wage after Uber slashed the price of fares last month.

John Smith, who asked that his real name not be used as he feared he'd lose his job, said Uber's decision to cut fares by 20% last month was good for riders but devastating for UberX drivers.

"I can't even earn minimum wage on the Sunshine Coast while driving for Uber," he said.

"I have to sleep in my car and work 16-hour days to earn only $200 after expenses."

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A former tradesman, Mr Smith lost his job late last year, and heard about Uber soon after.

"I jumped on it - maybe a little bit enthusiastically," he said.

Mr Smith said Uber's representatives had said the average hourly rate for Australian drivers was $30.

Is Uber doing the right thing slashing fare prices?

This poll ended on 06 April 2016.

Current Results

Yes, if that's what they need to do to bring in customers.

8%

No. It's not fair to lure drivers in with promises of a good income then change the fares.

60%

If it's that bad drivers can always stop working for Uber.

31%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

 

He soon discovered the reality was much different, but he'd already bought a new $19,000 car to use for work.

On Friday and Saturday nights when surge pricing was in force, fares were enough to be worthwhile, he said.

However surge pricing was rare on the Coast because of its population, and passengers were savvy enough to "just wait" till prices reduced, he said.

"I feel trapped by Uber, and totally depressed," Mr Smith said.

"It's like gambling. Trying to make income off Uber is like a lottery."

Sunshine Coast drivers are 'devastated' by Uber cuts.
Sunshine Coast drivers are 'devastated' by Uber cuts. Che Chapman

Mr Smith's situation is not unique, according to the recently formed Ride Sharing Drivers Association of Australia, an as yet unincorporated organisation that represents more than 200 Uber drivers in Queensland and Western Australia.

Uber's first driver-partner on the Sunshine Coast, Nambour resident Marne Prinsloo, has now given up driving with Uber because of the fare price being cut.

"I haven't driven since the price cut because it's not fair on the drivers," he said.

"There's literally no money in it for us anymore."
 

Marne Prinsloo was eager to join the Uber movement when it came to the Sunshine Coast.

 

Mr Prinsloo said he remained an enthusiastic supporter of the ride sharing platform, but couldn't justify driving for Uber when he only took home about $11 for every $30 earned once costs were taken out.

Unless fare prices went back to the pre-February rates and surge prices were removed, he would keep away, he said. Surge prices greater than 2% drove passengers away, he said.

 

The realities of contract driving

Sunshine Coast UberX driver Heather Marc agreed the fare cut had made it tough, but said she was still able to earn a full-time income.

"The fare reduction has hurt Sunshine Coast drivers a little bit - having to spend a bit more time out and about," she said.

She said because all UberX drivers were third-party contractors, "if you're not happy, it's up to you which way you want to jump".

"I really, really want it to succeed," she said. "Especially for the people of the Sunshine Coast, I want to do whatever it takes to keep it going."

RSDAA president Dan Manchester said when fares were cut last month, Uber gave its drivers less than 24 hours' notice.

"It's creating an unsafe situation for drivers, because drivers who rely on Uber as their full source of income…they're finding themselves having to drive more and more to make enough money," Mr Manchester said.

Mr Manchester said his organisation was pushing for Uber to reinstate a "sustainable level" of fare pricing.

 

Push to increase passenger numbers

Uber spokesman Sam Bool said the 20% price reduction for UberX and UberAssist was a trial aimed at increasing demand for rides.

It aimed "to get more riders on the road taking more trips, and in turn increase driver-partner earnings" he said.

"After 22 months in Queensland, Uber has learned that one of the best ways to increase driver-partner earnings is to boost demand for rides. And one of the most effective ways to boost demand is to cut prices for riders," Mr Bool said.

"For driver-partners, higher demand for rides means more time moving people, less time spent waiting around and more money in their back pocket."

He said he was surprised Coast drivers' claims of low rates, as the average on the Sunshine Coast was $25 and this could increase to $50 or more on public holidays and weekends.

"Average driver-partner earnings on the Sunshine Coast have increased for the last eight consecutive weeks, with some partners earning up to $70 per hour on Friday and Saturday nights," he said.



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