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Uber survey: Drivers like being own bosses, earning extra income

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: ADAM WICKHAM - Dozens of off-duty taxis packed Pioneer Courthouse Square to protest Uber at a Jan. 13 demonstration. A new Uber survey shows that drivers often use the service to supplement existing income.Uber drivers often turn out to be former taxi drivers who want to be their own bosses, set their own hours, and, supplement existing income, according to a survey released Thursday, Jan. 22, by the San Francisco ride-sharing giant.

The Benenson Strategy Group of New York interviewed 601 Uber drivers in 20 cities in mid-December to produce the report, "The Driver Roadmap: Where Uber Driver-Partners Have Been, and Where They're Going."

The company also enlisted Princeton economist Alan Krueger to analyze the survey’s findings.

According to the report, many drivers are using the Uber gig to supplement existing income. About 73 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to be their own boss and set their own hours.

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF UBER TECHNOLOGIES - Uber uses a smartphone app to set pickups for private drivers. Passengers pay through the app, and drivers get a cut of the fare.Almost half of Uber’s drivers worked in the for-hire transportation industry and said they choose to become Uber drivers when the ride-sharing company came to their city.

Uber uses a smartphone app to contact local drivers in dozens of cities around the world. Customers pay for their rides through the app, and Uber drivers get a cut of the fare.

Wrangling with the city

After months of waiting and wrangling with Portland city officials, Uber announced in early December that it would begin operating its ride service in the Rose City. City officials objected and sued Uber to block the company from operating outside Portland’s private, for-hire transportation rules.

Uber began operating last summer in Portland’s suburbs, where taxicabs are not as tightly regulated.

About 10 days after announcing its move into Portland, Uber agreed to hold off until April, when new rules could be drafted for private, for-hire vehicles.

A new city innovation task force began work on the rules in mid-January, focusing on the number of taxicab permits, regulated pricing system and requirements such as insurance, inspections and background checks.

The task force’s recommendations are expected by the April 9 City Council meeting.

On Jan. 13, dozens of drivers from the city's six licensed taxicab companies jammed Pioneer Courthouse Square to protest Uber's move into the city. The drivers and their supporters demanded that the city require Uber to follow the same rules as taxis.

'Crossover' drivers

Uber’s survey put its drivers in four categories: The UberBlack drivers, who were professional drivers that have been with the company for more than six months; the “crossovers,” who were UberX drivers that previously drove taxis or towncars and have been with the company for less than six months; the “new enthusiasts,” who were new to the company and say they drive for Uber to get a steady income; and, the “part-timers,” nearly half of those surveyed were in this category.

According to the survey, about 74 percent of the drivers said the Uber money was their steady source of income. About a third said they drove for Uber to earn extra spending money, or to add to family income.

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