TourismIamA former Toledo, Ohio cab driver who has driven to Chicago then NY on the same shift, seen the horrors of the night and seen Uber put almost 80 drivers out of business, AMA!
Mar 8th 2016 by bwcabbie • 8 Questions • 124 Points
Hey guys. I used to drive for Black and White in Toledo, Ohio from Summer 2012-Summer 2015. Toledo is a mid-sized city in Ohio with a metropolitan population hovering around 350,000 people. It is a heavy crime city with a lot of poverty and "unspeakable" areas.
I was 25 when I started (making me the youngest driver in the fleet since you have to be 25 to start) and was shocked at the system. I drove both nights and days, obviously night stories are filled with danger (I was kidnapped early in my career), big money out of town runs, sadness (taking a hooker home after a "hard days work") and a lot of drunk men and women who wanted everything from punching me for taking the wrong road to pulling me in the back of the taxi for a roll.
The big thing I want to expose people to is the abuse of the contract system. BW's entire business is built on contracts, about 90% medical contracts and about 80% of those medical contracts are through Lucas County Job and Family Services. Within 1 week of driving I figured out people were scamming this system to death. Placing fake medical runs to locations near the shopping malls just to go shopping, asking drivers to drop them off at their dealers house instead of take them home and laughing about it, or the medical facilities having people come in for totally unnecessary visits (one individual would get driven $60 each way to have his boot tightened in a 10 minute procedure and one time he said they didn't even tighten it, they just sent him back out) not to mention the growth of the methodone clinic downtown, again on Lucas County Welfare, with people (about 250 people per day) being driven up ($15-40 each way) 6-7 days a week every week.
I was recently driving around with a fellow driver at night and Uber has totally decimated the night business with 2 companies going out of business (Checker and Yellow) and dozens of operators and drivers for the surviving companies hanging up their boots.
Since I'm sure one of the first questions I'll be asked will be about my thoughts on Uber here it is up front.
What you don't see about Uber is that they are not properly insured and there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of cases where the drivers are being totally shafted by the company and left out to dry. They are not screened with background and drug checks (lots of incidents of Uber drivers stalking and harassing female passengers) and above all they are not making any money.
I was in Toledo/the US recently for the holidays (first time back in 16 months or so) and I took Uber and Lyft to save money (because it is cheaper) and the drivers are literally pulling $5 an hour on average.
The cab industry is regulated by the city (this means the charging price is locked at $2 jump, $2.30 per mile and I forget the exact time charge) so even if a BW (or MNM or any company) wanted to compete they wouldn't legally be allowed but you wouldn't want to because your not making any money.
The average ride in the city of Toledo (I can't speak for other cities) for Uber is about $12 (figured this out by 2 nice Uber drivers letting me see their ride histories out of anonymity) (and BTW this $12 ride with a Cab Company would be around $22-25), they keep 80% of that (so about $9-10). Gas will eat about 20% of that, now we're down to $7.50 or so, car maintenance has to be factored in at about 15%, down to $6, and taxes, even after expenses, will bring you down to $4.50 for a 45 minutes ride (factoring in driving to the individual and dropping them off).
I have 2 close friends who did this job (one did Uber, one did Lyft), and they realized within 2 weeks that there was no money to be had. It is a marketing brainwashing scheme to take advantage of the young, old and unemployed to scare up fast cash without them seeing the long term taxes and car maintenance costs that will eat whatever profit they may be getting.
The only thing making this up is the surge pricing but in Toledo (this is from first hand accounts, I'm the kind of guy that bugs everyone I meet for first hand experiences of unique situations) the surge pricing is few and far between (only on a Friday for 20 minutes when the bars let out) and the surge pricing is the one area where Uber is definitely ripping the consumer the fuck off.
The whole "cash only" thing stems from the fact that BW charges the cab owners 15-20% (was 15% but pretty sure it is now 20%) to cover the credit card fees. If your run is, say, $7 that is a pretty big hit. I don't condone demanding "cash only" but I think we can all understand why, given the option (which Uber drivers don't), they would do this.
For all intents and purposes Uber is the "big guy" pushing around the "little guy", waltzing into town, refusing to adhere to laws and regulations that DO protect consumers (with background checks, as stinky as your driver may be he has passed a multitude of criminal and health checks) and drivers (by guaranteeing a fair rate to charge) and having a massive stockpile of investor cash to cover credit card fees and create a marketing campaign that brainwashed poor college students and the retired to go out and destroy their car for $5 an hour.
I think Uber is a great system and I use it to save money but I do so well aware that it is a system fucking everyone under the sun the same way you know your phone was built with tiny Asian hands making pennies an hour.
It is currently 8:32 AM where I am but I should be able to stick around for about 3 hours.
EDIT: I know you all love Uber because they provide clean cheap rides but please read my responses and don't just kneejerk with brainwashed answers.
EDIT 2: It is currently 9:52 PM EST, I think I can stay another hour before I hit the gym
EDIT: I'm gonna call this over since it has deteriorated into a taxi bashing/Uber sucking fest. Thanks to the people who wanted to know about what it was like being a cab driver.