Duluth passes rideshare ordinance; opens city to Uber, Lyft

Lyft-UberDuluth City Councilors adopted an ordinance Monday establishing regulations for transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to operate within in the city.

The measure passed 7-1, with Fifth District Councilor Jay Fosle casting the dissenting vote. The ordinance goes into effect April 27.

The video above is the full 35-minute discussion of the issue. It opens with four citizens speaking in opposition to the ordinance. Comments by city councilors begin at the 9:40 mark.


Paul Lundgren

about 7 years ago

Any Uber drivers out there done the math to affirm or refute this?


about 7 years ago

Paul, I drove for Uber/Lyft full time in Minneapolis/St. Paul from the end of December through the end of February. I drove 10 hour days, five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm to 3am (or later, depending on if the rides were still flowing in and I wasn't tired). I think the least I ever made was about $165 in one night and the most I ever made was $243. My goal was to make right around $1,000 a week and I was able to do that week in and week out. And that was after Uber's 20 percent take in what I made each night. 

Was it a grind? Sure. But was it pretty good money for just driving? Yes. That was certainly just a base income though. I was spending around $120 or so in gas each week. But the video talks about mileage/depreciation (the $0.54/mile part) and water/gum/phone chargers. The mileage/depreciation is all tax deductible and so is the water/gum/phone chargers you purchase for your job as an Uber/Lyft driver. You can't deduct water/gum for yourself, but if you are buying them for your passengers, it's a work expense. If you're buying a phone charger solely for work (i.e. leaving it in your car), that's 100 percent tax deductible. Same goes for a percentage of your cell phone bill. Plus, being an Uber/Lyft driver gives you discounts on oil changes, tires, and parts for your car at various retailers that you wouldn't get if you weren't. Additionally, if you do more than 100 rides for Uber (and a similar amount for Lyft) you get access to a gas card that you can use at any gas station to get a discount on gas, making fill ups cheaper than they would be already. Uber takes whatever you spent on gas and then automatically deducts it from what you made that week. 

Also, I have to think that negative "actual fare" image was likely cherry-picked from some super rare situation. I drove plenty of short rides around the U of M that didn't make me much money, but just like a cabbie, Uber has a minimum fare amount that it will pay it's drivers for short rides. To be clear on that though, it's less than a cabbie's minimum fare, but Uber is also cheaper than a cab, so you have to go in expecting that (to be even clearer, their minimum fare paid out to an Uber drive is $3.60). 

Also, her $2/hr. claim is pretty bunk as well. Driving in the cities, the ride breakdown was as follows:

$0.45 pickup fee
... then Uber took 20 percent of whatever the outcome was. Let's take an example straight from my earnings. During the 7pm hour of Feb. 24, I only did one ride. It was just under 26 miles and lasted 36 minutes. After the Uber fee I made $25.46 ... much more than $2/hr. 

Let's take an hour that wasn't that good. The 1am hour from Feb. 24 (night of the 23rd the way Uber looks at it). I had a cancelled ride at 1:21am ($4 for a cancelled ride), a 12-minute 8.15-mile ride at 1:35am that netted me $8.43 and then finally a short 3-minute 0.95-mile ride at 1:54am that netted me the minimum payment of $3.60. So for that hour of work, again, after Uber fees, I made $16.03. More than $2/hr. 

Another point. She uses these services even though she understands the "pitfalls" of them. Quite the hypocrisy in my book. But also, she talks about how customers should be able to tip their drivers. Once you start driving and get used to how everything works, you understand that a good portion of your riders want to do, but do. Lyft actually encourages it by making it part of the app and giving you the option to tip up until 48 hours after you've been dropped off. Uber on the other hand doesn't have any kind of tipping mechanism in place on its app, so many of my Uber drivers just tip me in cash, and I've even considered taking payments via Square Cash on my phone so that people could still tip me with their cards. I just never go around to it while I was still living in the cities. 

To again be clear though, you cannot rely on tips to come on and still have to grind in order to make your money. My worst ever night of tips I only made $2 in tips. Alternatively though, my best night ever I made $88 just in tips. And heck, on that best night, even if I made no money on my regular rides, I would have still made $8.80/hr. just on my tips alone.

At the end of the day you are putting a lot of miles on your car (generally over 200 miles a night for myself, which if I did this full time for a year would be about over 52,000 miles a year, but all of those miles are still tax deductible), there are maintenance costs, tax, and other random expenses here and there. I will say that most drivers drive for Uber/Lyft part time since the other big pitfall of driving for a ride share company is that there are no benefits. No PTO, no health insurance, no holidays off with pay. None of that. If you want to take some time off, you better put in more hours during the week to make up for it.

Are you going to become a millionaire working for Uber/Lyft? No. But is it better than working at McD's or some other crappy place? Probably. In my short stint in the cities I did nearly 1,000 rides, maintained a 4.9 out of 5 rating, and have over 300 5-star ratings. I met people from all over the country and even plenty of people from many places around the world. I enjoy driving and meeting new people and to be able to do that, have good, fun conversations, and make money while doing that was an easy way to make money while looking for a "real" job. 

Lastly I would ask that you look at this video on YouTube. Do you notice the ratio of thumbs up to thumbs down? It's about 2:1. If this video was really speaking the truth, that ration would be much much higher and wouldn't have the number of thumbs down that it does. 

I'm not sure what else to say and apologize if this has just been a long ramble for you. I think too many people expect to drive for Uber/Lyft and make a ton of money for barely any work, but if you treat the job like an actual job and work hard at it, you can make more than you would flipping burgers and take care of yourself better mentally. It's not for everyone, but if you can survive, you can do all right.

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