RUN TNC 006: This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

RUN TNC 006: This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

In this week’s episode, Lyft tells L.A drivers to drive North to make money during the “Superb Owl”, barbecues and protests apparently go well together, Boston passengers get weird in Kris’ Creepy Craigslist Connections and Story Time with Fallon comes from one of our fans!

Also in this week’s episode…

  • Everyone thought the Big Game and protest was going to be amazing but, JK -nope!
  • Prime Time can’t be trusted
  • Rideshare drivers are turning into bandit cabs
  • And who tried to jump out of a moving vehicle??

 

As usual, we always look forward to feedback, comments, and 5 star ratings so we don’t get off boarded. Comment below!

RUN TNC 005 : We Are Turning Into Cab Drivers

RUN TNC 005 - We're Turning into Cab Drivers

In this week’s episode Jeffrey is STILL in China, Jose only rates 5-3-1, Fallon thinks we’re all cabbies, Christian comments on the looming protests, Kris talks Uber AM surge, and no one thinks rideshare drivers are educating themselves- like at all.

Also in this week’s episode…

  • Jose is an asshole
  • Kris’ Kreepy Craigslist Connections goes to LA
  • Christian says, wanna help the protest? Take a day off
  • Fallon defines cisgender and what that means to her

 

As usual, we always look forward to feedback, comments, and 5 star ratings so we don’t get off boarded. Comment below!

RUN TNC 004: I Can’t Wait to One Star You!

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RUN TNC 004 - I can't wait to 1 star you! | @runtnc

In this week’s episode, the gang goes at it again with the price cuts, Lyft gives drivers twelve million bucks, no more water for inconsiderate passengers, and where the heck is Jeffrey?

Also in this week’s episode…

  • Producer Jose gets behind the mic and talks about the “Jose Challenge”
  • Christian pays way too much for Lyft Lines than he should
  • Kris’ Kreepy Craigslist Connections, The Big Apple Edition (NSFW)
  • Fallon and her 5-star reflex
  • Weekly Feedback gets a jingle

 

As usual, we always look forward to feedback, comments, and 5 star ratings so we don’t get off boarded. Comment below!

RUN TNC 003: Passengers… acknowledge my existence!

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RUN TNC - 003: Passengers... acknowledge my existence!

In episode 003 of RUN TNC, the ex Taco Bell exec comes back for a sequel, someone is allergic to air freshener, everyone hates passenger ass sweat, and Christian’s dog ate his phone mount.

Also in this week’s episode…

  • Kris (with a K) gets his own segment
  • Jeffrey waxes poetically about cleanliness
  • Which passenger would you leave out in the rain?
  • Fallon cuts her rates resulting in 13% more Storytime with Fallon

Lyft Price Cuts; How Do We Move Forward?

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RUN TNC Minicast - Lyft Price Cuts | @runtnc

Since it’s inception, Lyft has done an amazing job developing brand loyalty by creating a fun culture for both drivers and passengers. Today the running joke amongst drivers is that Uber is considered “the dark side” when Lyft began to market itself as the more friendly option: after all, Lyft is “your friend with a car”. Lyft drivers were encouraged to greet passengers with a fist bump and pimp out their cars with the giant wacky pink mustache.

As a consumer, Lyft was a very attractive option in comparison to the taxi industry. It was touted that drivers got paid 100% of their earnings during “power hours” and the service was not only faster and reliable, but the consensus was that the person driving you was paid out fairly.

Ridesharing when first introduced was a millennial dream! The taxi industry was like McDonald’s, outdated and unhealthy. Lyft was fresh and organic like Chipotle who promotes from within.

Since 2014, everything has changed. Drivers in most markets have seen close to five price cuts.

The following screenshots are from my own earning summaries in the San Francisco market.

Lyft pricing screenshot, San Francisco Market 3-7-2014

Ride from 03/07/2014, San Francisco Lyft Market

Ride from 01/17/2016, San Francisco Lyft Market

Ride from 01/17/2016, San Francisco Lyft Market

Its important to note that pre-tip, the ride earnings from the most recent screenshot are actually 13.16. The ride was also an additional 5 minutes longer, which at the recent price drop to .23 a minute, adds $1.15. After all the calculations, the earnings after the price cuts is $12.01. That is a decrease of roughly $8 from two years ago.

A 6.7 mile ride at 25 mins, used to cost $25, now $15.27

Unfortunately, the only recurring expense that has changed is the price of gas, but wear and tear, depreciation of a car’s value, and maintenance costs have not decreased.

Drivers are operating at a loss. Whether they are aware of it or not is a different question.

Lyft’s price cut is immediately on the tail of Uber’s new pricing. It is remarkable how reactionary Lyft is to its competitor. Uber has gained a sour reputation for how it treats most of their drivers so why is Lyft reacting in the same way? Companies should thrive to be industry leaders, but instead Lyft is playing catch up to Uber’s antics, devaluating its product and service along the way.

At rates of $0.88 per mile in Los Angeles, $0.71 in Fresno and $0.7o per mile in Detroit, is obvious that the bottom line has been met. These companies have been negligent towards the most important cog to their business: the driver.

Without the driver, there is no business. Unfortunately over the past 6 months to a year, its generally understood that the nickel and dimeing has made it more difficult for drivers to meet their goals, to pay their bills and to fix their cars.

Lyft Twitter Spam

Lyft spamming Twitter, wanting everyone to do a Happy Dance at the expense of drivers

The most worrisome part is the reaction of a few loyal Lyft drivers. Their obtuse views of how well the company treats them despite the constant beating is not only shocking but decelerates the growth of the community. After several price cuts, glitches within the app that affect earnings, and weak driver and consumer support, drivers who stay loyal to Lyft aren’t victims of blind faith but rather, co-dependency. The argument that any driver is free to turn off the app is condescending and insensitive to the thousands of drivers whose livelihood depend on their cars. Drivers, encouraged by Uber’s leasing program and Lyft’s Power Driver Bonus guarantee, made an investment that at some point had great returns. Unfortunately, decisions made in the main office of both these companies devalues the status of “independent contractor” who has a say in his own work.

How to move forward?

As producer of RUN TUNC, I’m not trying to rally up the troops for a protest (though if there was one I would peacefully stand in support). Instead, drivers should evaluate when to stand together; it’s in everyone’s best interest to do so. Of course regulation brings bureaucracy, but there comes a time in every company’s existance when that needs to be introduced. Lyft and Uber have both grown so big that their experiments no longer affect only a small group of followers– it affects thousands of people who’s livelihoods are at stake.

There is a strong sentiment of lost and uncertainty invading the driver Facebook lounges and driver communities all over the country. Ultimately, if neither of these companies recognizes that without being able to pay drivers livable wages, they will lose faith in the company, faith in the mission, and will drive them off the road.

Jose Vivanco, Producer


 

RUN TNC 002: The Wal-Mart of Ridesharing

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RUN TNC 002: The Walmart of Ridesharing banner | @runtnc

This week, in the second episode of RUN TNC, we say goodbye to a fellow driver killed on the job, discuss where our bottom price falls, dashcams, Jeffrey gets in an accident, we issue a threat to Steven Colbert, and Weekly Feedback (Civil War style.)

The GoFundMe page for Thor Anderson can be found here. Also on this week’s podcast, Fallon is super excited to announce her new dashcam. She mentions some resources. Here is a comprehensive guide. For those too lazy to read the WHOLE article, like Fallon… Here’s a bullet list of what to look for in a dashcam:

  • Micro SD
  • Continuous Recording
  • Auto ON/OFF
  • Collision detection (G Force)
  • Day AND night recording

Also in this week’s episode…

  • That Game that Shan’t Be Named
  • Crackheads
  • Christian considers becoming the “pink zebra Lyft”
  • Robot cars and a whole lot of speculation

NOTE: This episode was recorded before Lyft dropped their prices in response to Uber’s price cut. Subscribe to our newsletter to get our reaction in our upcoming minicast.


 

Why GM’s partnership with Lyft won’t take away our jobs

Last week, Lyft announced that they would be partnering with GM, who had invested $500milllion. This is on top of Lyft’s current $4.5billion valuation. This partnership opens up a couple new avenues for the rideshare company, including a network of car rental hubs for people to do short term rentals so they can drive for Lyft and make some extra cash. This has largely been overlooked because everyone and their Aunt Margaret is talking about Lyft and GM’s commitment to creating a network of driverless cars that people can hail rides from. This announcement is causing many veteran rideshare drivers to get their proverbial panties in a twist. The complaint: Lyft doesn’t care about drivers and wants to replace us with robots.

I am John Henry

Lyft and GM partnership | @runtnc

The thing is, this is a strategic move for future driverless car options. None of us are going to be screwed anytime soon, but the general consensus by a lot of people (who seem to lack critical thinking skills) automatically take this as Lyft phasing out all drivers ASAP. It’s comical, really.

You are not John Henry, and the autonomous car is not the steam powered hammer.

The Autonomous Dilemma

Here’s the thing; Autonomous cars are, by most calculations, at least a decade away from being safe enough for consumer use. Throw on top of that, the average person’s complete inability to relinquish control, because we’re all selfish assholes, and we’re talking much longer before we see widespread mainstream use of such vehicles. Here’s why autonomous (or driverless) vehicles won’t pass muster any time soon, and are, quite possibly, the stuff of sci-fi novels.

  • The human driver can detect changes in the road due to a myriad of conditions: potholes, snow, rain, roadblocks, construction zones, road closures, etc.
  • AI making decisions to minimize loss of life and injury are an ethical and legal war zone.
  • Driverless cars rely on often out of date, and far from comprehensive GPS data.
  • Crackheads.  Seriously, try writing an algorithm to predict the movements of the crackheads that run about freely in the streets of our major cities.

Crackheads, Bro

That last bullet point reminds me of something. Story time!

One fine summer’s day, while driving in San Francisco, one of our fine city’s many cracked out denizens walked in front of my car at a green light.  He seemed to be completely lacking any cognition of his whereabouts, and likely thought my car was a three headed dragon or some shit. I didn’t see him, until it was very nearly too late. I slammed on the brakes and came to a halt.  Then, in the midst of his zombie-esque stupor he literally bumps into the front of my car.

 

 

I shit you not, this guy paused, looked around to find the culprit of such a sensation, and stumbled onward through the intersection into oncoming traffic.  We’ll just say he wasn’t filing a police report anytime soon.

Let’s imagine for a moment that I was in an autonomous vehicle, reading my newspaper (who am I kidding, it’s totally a Reddit post, or Facebook) and this happened. What if there had been two crackheads, and only one occupant in the autonomous car?  Would the autonomous car slam into the nearest tree to save two lives over one? I’m no expert, obviously.  However, I believe that the necessary solutions to the innumerable scenarios to be considered are just not in place.

These things take trial and error, research, etc.; Not to mention the legal landscape that would need re-working to account for such situations. These things have been thought about by people much smarter than myself, and they’re still lacking consensus on what are the most viable solutions. By freaking out about the driverless car, we are putting all our eggs in one basket when it comes to finding a solution to our transportation problems.

Take off Your Tinfoil Hats

The conclusions this driver comes to:  Take off your tinfoil hat conspiracy

 

and think critically for a moment about a few things; How long it takes to achieve something so monumental (legal, engineering, gaining public trust). Your average Lyft passenger may not be willing to put their trust in a machine over a human.  Public bus drivers with preset routes are probably going to be the first to see the competition of driverless cars. So rest easy my little ones, the big bad robot car isn’t coming for us anytime soon.

 


 

Are You Going to Go Bankrupt Driving UberX?

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Hey, did you know Uber cut their prices again?

You may be thinking that we got all angry and started a blog about price cuts where we intend to start a strike or labor movement from scratch. Perhaps we are going to charge everybody a monthly fee of $50 and I’ll pay myself 70% of it while riding a sled down a pyramid shaped from bullshit and named “Freedom”. Unfortunately I am too lazy/not a sociopath so that won’t be happening today.

Like many of you I heard prices were going to be cut on Friday. I braced myself for the impact. When they were posted the next day nobody could have expected them to be so steep across so many markets. I took a look at Harry Campbell’s spreadsheet and article of new prices on RSG (he spent his birthday making this spreadsheet lol) and found that the majority of markets are now below 1$ a mile.

Less than $1 Per Mile

Of the markets I looked at, 20 of the 28 listed were under $1 per mile on UberX. This doesn’t even account for the 20/25% that Uber takes in commission from these fares. I have a lot of trouble advising that anybody drive in a market where they are making less than a dollar per mile. I simply cannot see how it is profitable for anybody.

Lets do some really quick and ugly math for Los Angeles involving some rough assumptions;

  • If you begin the hour with a passenger in your car and drive at 65 mph for one hour, the fare is: $58.5 (65 miles @ 90 cents a mile) + $9 (.15 cent/minute x 60) = $67.5 total fare (not including safety fee).
  • Expenses: $67.5 – .25% (Uber Fee) = $50.63  Doesn’t seem bad right? But wait there’s more! You just drove your car 65 miles!
  • Lets pretend your car only costs 30 cents a mile to operate: $50.63 – (65 miles X .30) = $31.13 per hour

$31.13 per hour is roughly the MAXIMUM a driver can earn an hour in Los Angeles under 100% utilization and NO Traffic.

Unfortunately there has not been “No Traffic” in Los Angeles since the motor carriage was invented. So you aren’t going to earn anywhere near $31.13 per hour unless there is dynamic pricing. Even if you are efficient in markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco you will still end up driving an unpaid mile for every mile you are paid. Even this is a generous characterization because on slow days or on long rides you will find yourself dead-heading all the way back to the busy zone. This means you get to double those operations costs of 30 cents a mile to run your vehicle.

This means that you are more likely going to Gross around $15-20 per hour on a good day in Los Angeles. After expenses it will be somewhere around $5-10 per hour. You are better off not driving.

Detroit

Uber price cuts in Detroit | @runtnc

Detroit gets a whopping 30 cents a mile!

Detroit sees the lowest fares in the nation at 30 cents a mile. I can’t even comprehend how that is possible or what poor position someone must be in to find that worth their time. At this point I feel like its a slap in the face to one of the hardest places in the US to survive. There is no compassion or morality here. For Uber, its simple; desperate people will work for desperate wages.

Fare Guarantees

Uber has guaranteed an hourly rate for drivers in cities with price cuts. Each is different and you can find them here on Harry’s spreadsheet that he compiled for RSG. The thing is that these guarantees are usually temporary in nature and seem to be far less than they were last year. Meaning Uber has set the bar low to meet them in order to justify keeping most of the lowered prices after winter. Further, most drivers know there is a troubled history in getting paid out for the guarantees. So I wouldn’t count on them as a long term plan.

The Big Picture

These fares are not sustainable for anybody. At this point drivers are very clearly driving themselves into poverty. Nobody trusts rate cuts for a “limited” time. It is very clear that Uber is preying on the poor and desperate who need to generate some cash. Even for the drivers who are dumb enough to drive for these rates, they will not be able to operate their vehicles for very long before their repair bills mount up and they die off.

A lot of drivers will quit. There will be some surge when it happens. The surge will not be worth it and is not dependable on a long term basis. The golden age of TNC driving is over and at these rates it is the equivalent of a scam intended to transfer what little wealth/equity the poor have in their vehicles to Uber. Sure, some cities might do well but choosing to continue driving at these rates is going to seriously hurt you in a very bad way.

I cannot in good conscience advise that somebody drive for anything lower than $1 a mile. If you are in an affected area my advice is to do anything but drive for Uber.

One of my goals with writing for this site, along with everybody involved is to give it to you like it is. We will probably continue driving for a while since San Francisco is still a viable market (for now). So if you find yourself behind the wheel, you can count on us to give you some comedic relief on how ridiculous all of this is.

RUN TNC 001: Mucho Airport Runs

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In the premier episode of RUN TNC, we introduce the gang and get right into Sidecar’s inevitable obituary, Destination Filter pros and cons, new Passenger app updates, and the constant Facebook Group Negative Nancys.

Also in this episode…

  • “I’ll beat the pants ONTO you!”
  • “I’m 1/4 Choctaw.”
  • “I drive an Acura TL Type S- it has a lot of horsepower! …It’s- it’s… a 2002.”

 

Welcome to RUN TNC

RUN TNC – a funny name we came up with for our rideshare podcasting blog.

The podcast and blog are created for drivers, by drivers with one goal in mind: getting stories out there by veteran drivers and taking a peak behind the steering wheel.