Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Who Knew That We Have 57,000 Uber & Lyft Operators in Seattle & King County?

A local taxi lobbyist told me something I still have trouble believing---that there are over 57,000 Uber and Lyft independent contractors in Seattle and King County.  But despite my incredulity I know she is accurate, meaning I have been under estimating the total TNC driver count by 37,000.  Upon the subject of all things Uber I never have thought myself naive but guess what, never imagining this many drivers overwhelming our transportation market.  It certainly could be called many things but nonsensical is my first thought, all these operators plying a population one tenth the size of New York City.  Crazy, man, crazy!

And why do we have so many TNC (Uber & Lyft) operators?  Gullibility must be the answer, with too many buying into Uber's rhetoric that "you too can earn all this great money!" just by working a few hours in your spare time.  Unfortunately for all those who took the bait, according to a new MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) study, the majority are averaging $3.73 per hour after all overhead expenses are factored in, meaning that many drivers might actually be operating at a deficit, literally paying for the privilege to work and earn nothing whatsoever.  And even worse, one commenter said he thinks that some of the drivers "don't know!" that they aren't making anything.  Amazing and sad and stupid.

Yes very scary if the MIT study is correct, painting a scenario of something that shouldn't exist except it does, making it difficult on all of us connected to passenger carrying related businesses.  And just like talking to a "born again"Christian, how can you convince the "true Uber believer" that their God is an illusion, and their version of "financial heaven" is the stuff of mythology?  Difficult and perhaps impossible after the typical $15,000-20,000 investment is made to buy the car and now finding themselves accelerating down "dreamland's" highway, however nightmarish their drive might ultimately be.

That we went from a capped total of 500 Uber and Lyft vehicles to 57,000 says everything that can be said about local government and their decisions concerning the local taxi industry.  And yes, they are going ahead and adding 55 more taxis to our already suffering fleet.  Maybe their philosophy is "the more the merrier" but despite all initial cheering it soon will be "crying time again!" and next winter all the new owners will be cursing what was once, at least they thought, their good fortune.  Oh well, don't we all enjoy sharing a living hell?  The answer is no we don't, not at all.

A Bit of Levity

Today talking to "she who can't be named," she said that "$180.00 a week" is too much money, referring to the weekly dispatch fee all of us pay to Yellow Cab.  And of course it is and it is truly a shame that she is down in Arcata, California because there would be "hell to pay" if I took her down to the business office and set her loose upon the office staff.  I guarantee her wrath would be unforgettable, the stuff of legend, finding myself still laughing at the memory of her routing the five cowboys we encountered in Bismark, North Dakota during a 1992 cross-country journey.   That was funny, a potential dangerous scenario morphing into the comedic.

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