Business

Uber Drivers Say They Are Struggling: ‘This Is Not Sustainable’


But it has not been enough for Ishtiaq Ahmed, 42, who works for Uber and Lyft and lives with his wife and four children in Brooklyn. Mr. Ahmed said that, more than a decade ago, he used to earn $700 to $800 a day with the app services. Now, he is lucky to make $140. He has $30,000 of credit card debt, he said, and he owes thousands more to family and friends who helped him buy an S.U.V. for the job.

Mr. Ahmed and other drivers have criticized the service fees charged by Uber and Lyft, along with government-imposed taxes and surcharges, for cutting into their earnings.

For an Uber trip from Manhattan to Kennedy International Airport in November, Mr. Ahmed earned $59.29, or just 65 percent of the $91.71 fare, while Uber’s service fee was $17.72, or 19 percent. Another $14.70, or 16 percent of the fare, went to government taxes and fees, including a $2.75 congestion fee in Manhattan.

Mr. Gold said that Uber and Lyft drivers have earned less than taxi drivers because they work significantly fewer hours each month, and if calculating by hour, they make slightly more, according to city data. In September, taxi drivers worked an average of 7.6 hours per day compared with 6.5 hours per day for Uber and Lyft drivers.

He added that, last year, Uber reduced its average service fee to 16 percent of the total passenger fare for every trip that started in New York City, compared with generally between 20 and 28 percent before 2015. But government-imposed fees and charges have increased since 2018.

Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents for-hire drivers in the city, disputed Uber’s statistics, noting that the company generally keeps data on driver pay secret and only publicizes flattering numbers. “When convenient, Uber hides behind the corporate veil,” Ms. Desai said.

Mr. Gold responded that Uber reports detailed data on driver pay, passenger fares and trips to the taxi commission, as is required by city law.



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