Uber has created a way to call a taxi with the touch of a button, and ever since then it has became more and more popular.
“Uber is similar to taxis. They are easier to hail and are differently priced. In the long run, they may be substitutes or complements to buses and subways. Uber has the ambition to replace your second car. If they are successful, people would own fewer cars, leading to less employment in car companies, but more employment as drivers,” said Ken Boyer, a public transportation funding expert.
Uber is a way people can make money easily as a side job or after they retire, like Uber driver Douglas Fishell.
“[The process to become an Uber driver] was really simple. Everything was online. I had to scan my license, a copy of my registration, and my insurance, and then Uber paid for me to go to a place right here in town to have my car inspected. And boom it was up and running,” said Fishell.
Fishell became an Uber driver in October 2016, but didn’t retire until January 2017.
“In January of this year, I retired from the state of Michigan. Even though I was ready to retire, I can’t just sit around, so I had to find something to do.” Said Fishell. “Uber is extremely flexible.”
Uber has introduced both a new way to call a taxi and an easy way to make money, but those aren’t the only things that come along with this invention.
“Uber has made a couple of innovations. The one that everyone is familiar with is that they introduced a new model of the relationship between drivers and the cars that they drive. The tradition has been that the driver works for the company that owns the car, but this is not the case with Uber,” Said Boyer. “This allows Uber to get around labor laws and gives drivers a different incentive system from the traditional employer/employee relation.”
One of the downsides about Uber is that it contains price surges when there is an influx of ride requests.
“Another innovation is breaking the model that a ride should cost the same price regardless of the direction or time of day. Surge pricing is unpopular, of course, but it is what to the economist is perhaps the most interesting innovation,” said Boyer.
Even though Uber has price surges every once in a while, users still find it to be relatively inexpensive.
“There can be a surge one minute, and then it can be gone the next,” said Uber user Nadean Shovels. “If you’re going out on a weekend, [Uber] is going to cost more, but if you are trying to get somewhere during the day then it’s cheaper.”
Although Fishell says that he isn’t an Uber driver for the money, it is nice having a little extra pocket money.
“[The amount I get paid] depends on how long the ride is—both time and miles. The computer computes what the fare is, and the fare is paid through credit card. There is no money that changes hands,” said Fishell. “Occasionally somebody will tip you, but Uber just added a feature to their app where you can tip about a month ago.”
Shovels says the main reason she uses Uber is because it is cheap.
“I feel like Uber is safer than using a cab, and it’s more convenient because it’s right on your phone,” said Shovels.