Uber came to Prague as a cheap and attractive alternative to traditional taxi services. Uber attracted many newbie drivers, including Daniela Vrbů. The excitement at the beginning was soon replaced by confusion and disillusion, which the driver didn´t keep to herself.
What are the requirements for working as an Uber driver?
There were minimum requirements at first. A clean criminal record. A driver´s license without too many points subtracted. A car that isn´t older than ten years. Later, they added the requirement for a passenger transport license, and stopped requiring that you have your own (family, company,…) car, because the so-called fleet came. It is a middleman who partners with Uber instead of the drivers, provides cars to them and employs them. They´re usually businessmen who rent out a large number of cars at once and offer them to potential employees (usually people in financial distress) at extremely unfavorable conditions. Your Ukrainian Uber driver might be one of the modern slaves who work sixteen-hour shifts for 60 crowns an hour.
How is the pay compared to regular taxi service providers? How much can you make in a day?
When you´re driving a taxi legally, your expenses are enormous. Either you´re destroying your own car and have to count in high depreciation, or you´re paying an operational taxi lease. The costs when using your own car are approximately 7.5 crowns per kilometer (it´s hard to get a close estimate because it depends on what car you´re driving) and the number of empty kilometers is higher that the number of loaded kilometers. That means the profit can be as low as 12 crowns per kilometer, even when you´re charging the magistrate (the most expensive) rate. Doesn´t sound very appealing, does it? And if you have operational leasing, your expenses per kilometer may comprise only of petrol usage, but you will pay approximately 24,000 CZK per month for car rental (price for an older Superb). Add 16,000 CZK for petrol and 8,000 CZK for dispatching. That means that when you make 48,000 CZK driving, you´re at a zero. That doesn´t sound very appealing either and now you probably get why no taxi driver would drive for Uber, where (after calculating the empty kilometers) you get only about 6 crowns per kilometer.
Uber drivers drive cars that don´t have to fulfill strict taxi service conditions, therefore the costs are much lower. That enables Uber to lead a price war. From my own experience, I´d guess that a taxi driver´s profit per shift is twice or three times higher than an Uber driver´s, but his costs are also twice as high. Each of us is different and we work differently, so it´s hard to guess the numbers. Also, sometimes you´re lucky and other times you´re not, but we can say that as a regular dispatching driver, your gross revenue is let´s say 4,000 crowns. An Uber driver makes half of that in the same amount of time, but his costs are lower. Uber drivers can sometimes make more than taxi drivers – if they´re lucky enough to drive people for surge prices or if they overcharge a foreigner who´s going to the airport by taking the longest route and having the passenger pay the airport toll. But if it´s a fleet employee, he might only get 700 crowns, because he´s paid by the hour. However, he doesn´t have to pay any other operation costs.