Elizabeth Rhodes
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Uber Faces More Problems as Drivers Bail From Their Service

Uber Faces More Problems as Drivers Bail From Their Service
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According to a new report from CNN, some Houston rideshare drivers are opting to commute two to three hours to Austin just so that they can avoid driving for Uber to instead work for companies in the capital.

In May 2024, Austin voters decided to require fingerprint-based background checks for ridesharing drivers, which led Uber and Lyft to choose to cease operations. Since that time, a number of new companies — now compliant with the fingerprint requirements — have cropped up in the city.

Several companies — Ride Austin, Fare and Fasten — are making names for themselves as the city’s most popular for ridesharing.

Ride Austin, for example, does not take a cut of the earnings of drivers with standard vehicles, but instead the company keeps the $2 booking fee passengers are charged. Drivers of luxury vehicles and SUVs pay a 20 percent cut to Ride Austin, but they are also paid more per mile and minute. On the other hand, Uber takes nearly 30 percent of most rides in Houston. Keep in mind that Uber drivers in Houston receive 87 cents per mile, while Ride Austin gives drivers 99 cents per mile and 25 cents per minute. That doesn’t even include the $1.50 base fare and $4 minimum fare. Clearly there is a disparity.

One can’t help but mention that Ride Austin operates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, quite a departure from for-profit corporations like Uber and Lyft. The company added a feature called RoundUp, a service that automatically rounds up the rider’s fare to the next dollar with the amount going to the charity of the rider’s choice. Within the first eight months, Ride Austin raised more than $100,000 of RoundUp charity funds. Now let’s take a look at Uber’s ethical choices.

In just a few months, Uber has faced a plethora of criticism for their misbehaving CEO Travis Kalanick who recently berated a driver for his own company, reports of sexual harassment and discrimination from corporate employees, allegations that the company has evaded authorities using a secret program, and a lawsuit against the company for stealing intellectual property from Google for their self-driving cars. Amidst claims that Kalanick is responsible for a “toxic company culture,” Uber is now searching for a COO to assist him, which is not exactly a sign of a well-run company. Let’s also not forget the “Delete Uber” campaign, a response to the company breaking a taxi drivers’ strike during protests to President Trump’s “Muslim ban” at JFK Airport, which resulted in nearly 200,000 users deleting their accounts in January.

Another interesting facet of Uber’s tumultuous situation, the company is surprisingly missing from the Tech portion of SXSW this year, despite the fact that Uber is one of the most valuable tech start-ups in the country. This unto itself is a rather telling sign.

It should come as no surprise that Uber drivers are facing the realities of working for the company, realities that that they make less money for the same work they were more adequately compensated for just a year or so ago while the company floods the platform with new drivers and drives down fares.

Unless the company plans to fully address the concerns drivers, passengers and even corporate employees have with Uber, they may continue to face trouble. With ridesharing models like Ride Austin gaining steam, Uber certainly has some thinking to do.

  • lostnolove

    Does Houston not have any other option besides taking a regular United or Yellow Cab?
    I would much rather take an Uber than choose one of those companies but if there’s something similar to Uber I would like to try it if anyone knows of one in Houston.