Chatting with Rideshare drivers is always an experience. This industry has some of the most interesting, charismatic, and just outgoing people I have ever had a chance to work with, so every conversation I have with a driver feels like a completely new adventure.
These days, many of my interactions with drivers have been related to the new driver app that Uber rolled out over the past three months. Many drivers are really enjoying the new driver app as there are a number of really nice improvements. For one, the map interface is much cleaner and the navigation has improved.
You will also see improved messaging capabilities, an overhaul of many key screens, and your earnings are even easier to find. We won’t do a complete rundown of all of the new features in this post, but you can read about them all here.
These welcome additions should clearly help drivers, but even with all of these improvements over the last few weeks, the vast majority of my conversations with drivers have been about one thing…
The Charlotte Surge.
It sounds like a myth doesn’t it? Like a story passed down from rideshare driver generation to rideshare driver generation, except the Charlotte Surge is a real thing, it’s a big part of Uber’s new app, and drivers really hate it.
To be clear, the Charlotte Surge is just another name for Uber’s latest surge pricing system which instead of giving drivers a multiplier, gives drivers a flat dollar amount that will be added onto there regular fare as the surge fee.
This means drivers see maps that look like this:
Notice that instead of multipliers you see dollars that represent a flat fee to be added to your non-surge fair.
This means that a driver that picks up a rider from downtown Chicago and drives out to the suburbs won’t get between 1.5x or 3x the total ride, they’ll get whatever the flat fee is, which could be much lower than they would have earned with the old app.
What really has drivers up in arms is that riders are still charged a multiplying fee. So the cash that used to go to the driver, now seemingly is going to Uber.
Well, after a few weeks and dozens of conversations with rideshare drivers about the new app, we decided to gather quantitative data from rideshare drivers across the US to understand how they are feeling about Uber’s new app, and the results of our survey are in!
So let’s take a look at what we found.
Takeaway #1: Uber Drivers Believe Their Earnings Have Decreased
Drivers that we surveyed have overwhelmingly expressed their dissatisfaction with their income after Uber’s latest Driver App update. In fact, 90% of drivers nationwide expressed that they are now making less or the same amount they were making before.
Drivers working over 35 hours per week claim to be making about $288 less per week than they were previously, while drivers working less than 25 hours per week are said to be making about $101 less per week. This represents a 27% and 26% difference in overall weekly earnings.
Takeaway #2 Uber Drivers Are Not Fans of the New Surge and are Receiving Fewer Requests
The next logical question is why. Why are rideshare drivers making earning less?
Well, you would think that the easy answer to this question would be the “Charlotte Surge” that we’re hearing so much about, and it certainly looks like that is part of the answer.
When we asked “What do you dislike the most about the new Uber Driver App?” 26 of 145 respondents to that question mentioned “surge”. Here’s what they had to say:
Surges are very bad. They show a dollar amount as opposed to a percentage. We make less $.
Earning details are delayed and surge prices are capped so long trips are not worth it.
Uber charges the rider the old fare with surge and stealing my portion
We then asked flat out “Do you feel you make as much money from surges now after upgrading to the new Uber Driver App?” 103 out of 145 respondents to this question had a negative answer indicating that they did NOT feel like they were making as much money from surges now after upgrading to the new Uber Driver App.
Takeaway #3: Uber Drivers are Receiving Fewer Requests
Clearly, Uber’s new surge pricing is affecting driver earnings, but that’s only part of the story. Drivers are also saying that they are receiving significantly fewer trips after the update.
A whopping 70% of survey respondents said they were receiving less trips.
We did not expect this.
Why would drivers be receiving fewer trips from the new app? We would think that this number would stay consistent.
Well, drivers could be feeling this way for a number of reasons. One being the technical issues that Uber seems to be experiencing. Again, when we asked drivers “What do you hate the most about the new Uber Driver App?” they had the following answers:
The app freezes more, the GPS is worst…
It has issues crashing. Causing drivers to lose trips
Glitches with trip processing
Can’t get the navigation to work most times, Missing trips and payments.
It keeps freezing so I have to force quit it often and the seeing lower number of requests
These are technical issues that we would expect Uber to figure out pretty quickly.
We also found that drivers in general just were not used to, or did not like Uber’s new layout. When asked the same question as above, other drivers had the following answers:
Some things are harder to get to
Features missing. Trip type too small on ping. Nav button too small. Missing cancel and acceptance rates.
Freezes. Poor Navigation
It appears, that a number of Uber drivers are having problems just getting the app to work as it should and also getting used to the new interface. While it appears this is having a significant effect on drivers, we would expect the kinks with the app to be worked out.
Takeaway #4: Uber’s New App is Making Drivers Consider Other Services
One troubling sign for Uber is that the Uber’s new app appears to be making drivers think twice about driving with Uber. Drivers are claiming that Uber’s new app is affecting them enough to consider using other services.
It’s no secret that most drivers work with at least 1 other rideshare service regularly, however, Uber tends to be the app most drivers see as their main app. Uber’s new driver app could be pushing drivers to Lyft, Via, and Juno.
So how can drivers continue to find success even in the face of “The Charlotte Surge”?
So it’s clear that drivers aren’t fans of Uber’s new driver app and their flat-rate surge pricing, and it does appear to be affecting the wallets of drivers. But, there are a few things that drivers can do to ensure that they’re still maximizing their profits.
1 Forget About the Surge
Even before Uber’s new flat-surge pricing seasoned drivers knew that surge chasing would leave you driving back and forth through your city getting very few ride requests. With the changes to Uber’s driver app, not only must drivers not chase surges, but you must eliminate them from your income calculations. Meaning, don’t plan to make your money based on surges. Instead, arm yourself with information so that you can drive where the most passenger demand and the least driver supply is.
2 Plan Ahead When Driving
If you’re going to focus on finding the maximum amount of passenger demand and the minimum amount of driver supply, then you need to plan ahead. That means know when and where you plan to drive before you goout everyday. You should know what events are going on in your city, when the airports will be busy, when travelers will be leaving from their hotels to go to the airport, and you should always be aware of the weather.
3 Know What’s Happening in Real-Time
Even if you plan ahead, you still need to know when certain events and happenings around your city that you didn’t plan for are ending or beginning so you can position yourself to take advantage of a peak in passenger demand. Use a tool like Gridwise ensure that you never miss out on an opportunity in your city.
4. Track Your Performance
You cannot improve what you don’t measure.
Many drivers track their mileage for tax purposes, but the true value of tracking your mileage and earnings is so you can understand what’s working and what’s not. Track your mileage and earnings on every shift so you can understand if your performance is trending up or down and figure out what driving strategies are most profitable for you.
Track your performance so you know what’s working and what’s not
Now, we want to hear from you drivers! Have you been making more or less with the new Uber App? Let us know in the comments below!