For one Uber driver, an entire week of work only put $35—about $1 per hour—into her pocket. And that was before paying for gas.
Leah Smith is an Uber driver in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It’s definitely not among the most lucrative rideshare markets, but that’s an understatement. After spending 35 hours and 48 minutes online and ready to pick up passengers, Smith had only completed five trips and profited only cents per hour when taking take after-the-fact costs like gas and maintenance into consideration.
Although she’s been driving for Uber since it launched in her city in May 2015, she doesn’t usually drive full time—for obvious reasons.
“What’s the point? I don’t make much during weekdays anyway,” Smith told the Observer via Facebook message. “But that week I needed cash so I was online more than ever before, but obviously it didn’t make much of a difference.”
In Fort Wayne, the base fare is only $2 with miles and minutes being charged at $.70 and $.15 respectively. The worst part? The minimum fare is only $3.35, and Smith says she only gets tipped about once every 20 trips. And while this week was especially bad, she hasn’t earned a single decent paycheck from Uber. The weekly statement from what she says is her best week ever showed her earning only $9 per hour.
Smith can’t guarantee that she took every pick up, but she said she rarely denies trips and that it’s safe to say she didn’t during this time either.
“Now I admit for the people who asked, ‘did you even try,’ I did not go online Friday or Saturday night during ‘drunk hours.’ As a female, I don’t want to place myself in a higher risk situation of something bad happening,” she said.
Obviously, it isn’t Uber’s fault that people in Fort Wayne aren’t taking rides. But the false advertisement of how much money can made does fall on the company. Even when you overlook its absurd 2014 claim that drivers can make $90,000 annually, we’re left with the belief driving for Uber leads to a decent wage. On the page of the company’s website called “Drive,” it says “it’s easy to make money helping people get around” and that Uber will make it so you “don’t ever have to choose between earning a living and having a life.”
Was Smith earning a living or having a life during those 36 hours? Most would agree she was doing neither.