Talking Uber & Lyft & the Livable Wage

On-demand taxi services are sprouting up all over the place. The most well known are Uber and Lyft. Many of the services revolve around people using their own vehicles to shuttle passengers from door to door. Before moving on in my series on driving for such services, I’d like to comment on tipping as a rider for Uber and Lyft. Let’s talk Uber and Lyft and the livable wage.

Service jobs are difficult in terms of bringing in the elusive livable wage. Anyone who has worked in such industries knows it. Some days, you get those $20 tips. Another day, money does not flow. Are people misinformed about tipping? Are riders broke themselves, cavalier, miserly? Are they out of touch with the issue of tips and a livable wage? Probably all the above.

Tipping is meaningful. People in restaurants may not always tip, but most know the standard is 20% to be fair to that hard-working waiter/waitress. QuoteWizard* has a good article considering a livable wage, Lyft, and Uber: “Do You Tip Your Lyft and Uber Drivers?”

Lee Prindle writes, “Both company’s differing approaches to tipping has contributed to the confusion and trepidation that many riders feel when it comes to gratuity. Uber’s initial message that tipping was neither required nor expected made riders accustomed to a tip-free ride. That was acceptable when drivers earned livable wages, but that is changing.”

Even then! Tipping is also a life saver for the Uber or Lyft driver. Besides fuel costs and time, time, time, consider the mileage, the wear and tear on the car, extra insurance. No, this job is not the best in terms of real income earned. I know a driver who just left the job after replacing $500 worth of wear and tear on his/her vehicle.

Drivers like it more for other reasons than big bucks. They like the freedom to be their own boss and make their own hours. It fits in as extra earnings to pay those extra bills, with flexibility offered around other jobs. How nice if they could really support their family and keep the car up with repairs — rather than just cashing in for the day to ensure they can afford gas the next day.

QuoteWizard also brings to light the diminishing wages of drivers: “A study by the Rideshare Guy, a blog aimed at Uber and Lyft drivers, has shown the stark reality of diminishing wages. In 2013, drivers had to travel 2.63 miles to earn $10. Today, they need to travel 4.71 miles to earn $10.”

When it comes to tipping, Lyft is the better influence. Lyft allows the rider to think back on the niceties of a good driver for a few days. Prindle writes, “Uber’s tipping policy has flip-flopped since their startup days. Their initial slogan, ‘there’s no need to tip.’ ”

Affordability for those in need is a good thing. Many people do use Lyft and Uber to get to work. Perhaps the worker is off a bus route due to urban sprawl. The bus takes perhaps an hour longer than an app-based taxi service. Still, livable wages miss the mark with the early campaign Uber put forth. I tried to tip a bus driver once who was exceptional. He was not allowed to take tips. Bus drivers have solid benefits. Lyft and Uber drivers do not receive benefits.

Concerning tips with Lyft, Prindle continues, “Lyft, on the other hand, allows riders to give in-app tips after completing a trip, and 100% of it goes directly to the driver. This is a big difference between Uber and Lyft, and it’s often cited as a reason many drivers prefer Lyft. Riders are able to add a tip up to three days after their trip.”

As an occasional driver, I see those people who perhaps cannot afford to tip much. Their budget is tight. On the other hand, sometimes they are the very riders that do tip the most generously. I suspect they know how a good tip makes someone’s day. Validation — we all are looking for validation of our productivity and our services.

This post is sponsored by QuoteWizard, images from Lyft Facebook

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