Uber FAQ

General Questions:

How much do Uber drivers make?

Uber drivers gross about $15 dollars an hour.  Final results will vary according to

  • market–Each market has different reimbursement per mile and per minute.
  • time of day–Driving bar closing times will result in higher passenger turnover and surge bonus.
  • tips

Don’t expect a lot of tips while driving for Uber. Lyft puts tipping in its app, but Uber does not. Only about 1 in 10 Uber passengers tip.

Each market has its own rate of pay. Drivers in San Francisco, where both the demand and the rate of pay are high, can make more money than a driver in Burlington, Vermont, for example, where demand is sporadic, and the mileage rate is low.

Remember, this is gross pay, it’s what Uber pays you, before you deduct your expenses.

Because they are classified by Uber as independent contractors, not employees, drivers are responsible for all expenses. They must pay for gas, insurance, repairs, car washes and other expenses. Drivers who give away water and snacks (Stop that!) pay for that out of their own pocket. In the United States, drivers must pay their own taxes, including social security, medicare and income taxes.

Many drivers, especially those who commute long distances to the active areas, find that they actually make less than minimum wage after factoring in mileage, taxes and other expenses.

How do I become an Uber driver?

Becoming an Uber driver is simple. You need:

  • To be 21 years old
  • To have a valid driver’s license with three years of driving recorded
  • To own or lease a 4-door car, less than 10 years old (newer in some markets)
  • To have your name listed on the registration
  • To have the car registered in the state in which you will drive
  • To have the car inspected according to local and/or state laws
  • To have an active insurance policy with your name listed as a driver
  • To be able to pass a simple background check.

What are requirements for Uber cars?

Nothing too janky. Generally, Uber requires that your car

  • is less than 10 years old
  • is in excellent condition,
  • has 4 doors
  • has a clean title (i.e. no rebuilds or salvages)
  • has passed local inspection, if required. For example, Vermont requires that all vehicles pass state inspection to remain on the road. Uber will need to see evidence that its Vermont drivers passed inspection.

Again, markets will vary, and there can be individual exceptions. I rode in a 2-door Dodge Charger in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for example. The driver said that he had to have a special inspection at the regional office in Detroit. They approved him to carry only three passengers, but it would be a tight fit.

In Eastern Michigan (Ann Arbor, Detroit and Flint), cars can be much older, as old as 2001, according to this official Uber website (accessed May 2016).

What is Uber?

Uber generally refers to Uber Technologies, Inc., a company that designed a cell phone application to source rides in people’s personal cars. Its services compete directly with traditional taxi companies.

Uber doesn’t hire its drivers as employees. It takes them on as independent contractors. This saves the company significant costs. In the United States, for example, Uber does not pay unemployment insurance, worker compensation insurance, paid vacation, social security, medicare, and other expenses related to its drivers.

What does Uber mean?

Uber is a German preposition, meaning ‘over’/‘above.’ In the United States, English slang usage developed where ‘uber’ came to be a superlative, meaning ‘super.’ For example, “I’m uber-excited to go on this trip with you.”

Uber Technologies, Inc., began in San Francisco, California, as a high-end, black car service, so the slang term fit its luxury offering.

What is a TNC?

TNC is short for transportation network company, which uses a mobile app to connect a rider and a driver. Uber, Lyft and other ride hailing companies call themselves TNCs because they don’t want to be known as transportation companies.

Transportation companies provide rides. Transportation network companies arrange rides.

This distinction helps allow the so-called TNCs to bring on their affiliated drivers as independent contractors, not employees, saving the company taxes and other money for benefits.

TNCs bring together four different technologies to provide ride matching:

  • digital mapping to find a course for your trip,
  • GPS, to show where you are on the map
  • the  web for sharing this information,
  • and smart phones to bring all the information into the palm of your hand.

What is a PTC?

Toronto, Canada, defines a company like Uber as a Private Transportation Company, or PTC.

The more widely used term Transportation Network Company applies here. A PTC and a TNC are companies that connect drivers and passengers through a mobile app.

What is a VTC?

In French, VTC, “voitures de tourisme avec chauffeur” (passenger car with driver), refers to app-based ride-hailing companies like Uber, or its French competitors Chauffeur-Privé, Heetch and My Carrosse.

Uber Services:

Is Uber (or Lyft) 24 hours?

Yes, but results will vary.

Uber and Lyft do not hire their workers, they classify their drivers as independent contractors, meaning they can’t set the hours worked.

During peak times, Uber and Lyft often set guarantees to encourage drivers to leave the couch. But overnight, you might not find many drivers connected to the network.

If there are no drivers, there’s not much you can do, except call a cab.

Uber’s disruption of the taxi industry works best during the most profitable hours.

What is UberT?

Uber T, or UberT, is a way to hail a taxi in New York City through the Uber app. Unlike traditional Uber services, payment is not included, although Uber will automatically charge you a $2.00 booking fee.

At the end of the ride, the passenger must use cash or a credit card to pay the cab driver.

There is $5.00 cancellation fee.

What is UberCAB

UberCAB is a way to hail a taxi in select large cities. In the United States this includes Washington, D.C, and Chicago. Uber users call for a cab through the app, which then charges the traditional metered cab fare, plus a $2.00 booking fee.

Uber also adds on a 20% tip. (Uber possesses the technology for in-app tipping. They simply choose not to deploy it for their regular drivers. Interesting!) The passenger can change the percentage of the tip within the app.

There is $5.00 cancellation fee.

What is UberTAXI?

UberTAXI is a program in Sydney, Australia, where users can hail a cab through the Uber app. The traditional metered cab rate will be charged along with an additional 5% fee to Uber. And Uber charges a $2.00 booking fee.

There is no mention of a tip.

What is UberBLACK?

UberBLACK is Uber’s high end, luxury car service. Drivers are licensed livery drivers, who carry commercial auto insurance.

Uber began as a way for chauffeurs in San Francisco to fill their downtime. UberBLACK was the company’s first service.

UberBLACK is in about a quarter of the cities served in the United States. As you might expect, it is in the largest cities, ones that already have a pool of professional chauffeurs.

What cars can be used for UberBLACK?

Examples of cars in the UberBLACK program include:

  • Audi 8
  • BMW 7 and 5 Series
  • Cadillac XTS
  • Lexus GS
  • Lincoln MKT
  • Tesla Model S

How much does uberBlack cost?

In general, an UberBLACK costs about three times that of an UberX. Cost, like everything in Uber, varies according to the market.

Will my UberBLACK be black?

Yes, the exterior color will always be black, but in Detroit, interior colors may vary. In New York City, black-on-black styling is required for both UberBLACK and UberSUV. (The Volkswagen Touareg qualifies for UberBLACK in Detroit, but is only UberX in New York City.)

What is UberSELECT?

UberSELECT falls between UberX and UberBLACK in terms of price and (sometimes) luxury. UberBLACK drivers could drive at the SELECT rate, but riders most commonly will find cars driven by non-livery professionals.

UberSELECT is in a little less than a quarter of the cities served by Uber in the United States—mostly larger markets, but some mid-sized towns as well, including Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

What cars can be used for uberSELECT?

All UberBLACK cars qualify.

In addition, a wider selection of mid-range luxury vehicles qualify for uberSELECT. There are over 100 vehicle types. BMW, for example, qualifies the 3- and 4-series for SELECT. Audi A3, A4, S4, A6, S6, A7, S7 and RS7 all qualify for SELECT, but do not qualify for uberBLACK.

If you get a car of the UberBLACK while requesting a ride on UberSELECT, you will pay the lower UberSELECT rate.

How much does UberSELECT cost?

On average across the 40 markets it serves in the United States, UberSELECT is about 2.5 times as expensive as an UberX.

The best bang for the buck comes in Baton Rouge, where it is only 1.8 times as expensive as UberX on short trips.

What is UberX?

UberX, introduced in 2012, is Uber’s cheapest service in North America. Remember, Uber began as a way for livery drivers to fill down time using UberBLACK. UberX marks a radical expansion of the business model allowing for rapid growth and scale. UberX no longer required trained, limousine drivers. The service pairs a rider with a driver in their own, personal vehicle.

The tag line for uberX is “The low-cost Uber.”

What cars can be used for UberX?

Minimum requirements in most markets call for a car that 1) has four doors, 2) seats al least four passengers, 3) is less than 10 years old (some markets vary).

Well over 100 different models qualify for service as uberX in the United States. Example models for UberX include:

  • most 4-door sedans like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima
  • small SUVs like the Honda CRV, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Murino
  • entry-level luxury cars like the BMW 3 series, Lincoln MKC and Infiniti Q50, and
  • hybrids like the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape Hybrid.

As with everything Uber, results will vary according to the market. Always confirm the model/market fit by contacting support@uber.com.

What is UberXL?

UberXL is the large version of UberX. XL rides have room for at least 6 passengers.

Example cars for uberX include

  • minivans like the Dodge Caravan and the Honda Odyssey, and
  • mid-sized SUVs like GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot.

Rates are higher than uberX, but lower than uberSUV.

The tag line for uberXL is “Low-cost rides for large groups.”

What is UberPOOL?

Launched in 2014, UberPOOL is Uber’s approximation of traditional carpooling (although in traditional carpooling, both passengers and driver share the final destination as their goal). It allows unrelated trip requests to be combined into a single ride. For example, a pool driver will pick up passenger A and drive them toward destination A. Along the way, the driver may stop and pick up passenger B, whose drop-off is close to destination A.

UberPool has rates cheaper than UberX. The company in many markets forces UberX drivers to accept UberPool requests, threatening to disconnect them if they refuse too many Pool.

Lower rates and more passengers ensures that Uber makes more money on the trip because each pays a booking fee, while drivers complain of making less.

Drivers complain of lower ratings from passengers, who are frequently displeased with the many stops. There’s no way to rate Uber, only the driver.

Drivers in the US, frequently refer to the service as UberPoo.

As of June 2016, UberPool represents 20% of Uber rides worldwide, according to a company blogpost.

You can read my review of UberPOOL here.

What is UberMOTO?

Available in New Delhi, India, UberMOTO provides rides on the back of motorbikes.

Screenshot from the UberMOTO website, showing a pink motorcycle--eerily without a rider. The image also contains Uber's catch phrase--Save Money. Save Time.
Screenshot from the uberMOTO New Delhi  website.

As a passenger, you have to use the helmet Uber provides. Nothing like sharing a helmet with strangers on a 40 degree Celsius day in June…

What is UberGO?

UberGO, available only in India, is the cheapest mode of single destination ride (as contrasted with UberPOOL) offered by Uber. It features mini and supermini cars such as the Tata Indica Vista, the Toyota Etios Liva and the Maruti Suzuki Splash.

The tagline for UberGO is “Smaller. Smarter. Cheaper.”

What is uberBIKE?

UberBIKE is uberX (sometimes called uberPOP in Europe) with a bike rack to carry your bicycle. The per minute and per kilometer charges are the same, but uberBike has an increased base fare (2.5x).

The service is available in Amsterdam.

In northern California, USA, a small bike rental company, founded in 2011, calls itself uber-bike. Who’s gonna sue whom?

What is uberPOP?

In certain European cities, uberX is branded as uberPOP. The tagline is the same: “The low-cost Uber.” You can find uberPOP in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Poznan, Poland, for example.

In Lausanne, Switzerland, uberPop is branded as, “The friendly Uber.” (Doesn’t Uber’s marketing department realize that this tagline implies that all the other Uber services are unfriendly?) Lausanne also has uberX. I don’t know the distinction in this city.

What is uberESPANOL?

In the United States, UberESPANOL is uberX with a Spanish-Speaking driver. It’s available in

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • LA, Orange County and San Diego, California
  • Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

The tagline presented for Phoenix is “A donde quieres ir?” (Where do you want to go?).

What is UberRUSH?

UberRUSH connects you to a courier for small parcel delivery. As of June 2016 it is available in San Francisco, Chicago and parts of New York City (Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens).

Bicycle couriers can deliver parcels up to 30 pounds, 50 pounds if by car.

You can’t send:

  • Animals
  • Illegal or dangerous items
  • Stolen goods
  • Drug paraphernalia