Research Essay

The Revolt Against Uber


My interest in Uber as a topic for my digital media project was sparked by the recent outbreak of protests and petitions against the company throughout my college career. Those participating in such events are mainly arguing in favor of the drivers’ rights and against the agenda of the company itself. Uber was created in March of 2009 as a convenient and efficient way of transportation for the general public, all while helping to boost the international employment rate and maintaining stellar opportunity costs for all parties involved. The birth of Uber fulfilled many of the immediate needs of its customers, but ties between the drivers and the company have only become more twisted and tangled since day one. The treatment of drivers and their purpose within the company are both unjust and diminished among the public eye.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/05/uber-strike-impact-gig-worker-protest.html
Uber workers engage in one of the largest gig-worker protests last May.

The root of the eruption of outrage surrounding Uber stems from the conditions of the drivers. The specific demands vary by the general area, but most locations are asking for the same thing: Changes in earnings as well as an improvement in the overall treatment as an employee connected to the company. Uber is just over ten years old and has progressed significantly, specifically over the past four years, making additions such as Uber Pool, driver tips, and an improved navigational system. The company is about to hit its ten year mark and has proven immense progression over the years. The most recent of the strikes appeared internationally in at least a dozen major cities last Spring on May 8th. The strikes included drivers who purposely intended to step away from their work during the busiest commuting hours in order to decrease the company’s dependence on it’s “employees” for the physical transportation. Uber has planted itself within a short- term, reliant system within the economy, stating that its drivers are “independent contractors,” meaning “Workers don’t get the same rights as employees, such as a minimum wage, overtime, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, paid sick leave or on-the-job expenses” (O’Brian). To treat Uber drivers as proper employees would only hurt the company, forcing many binding connections and deals between the two parties that the company’s executives believe to be unnecessary.


Instead, the company strongly denies that the individuals who are driving and participating in their system are actually not even their own employees. The number of drivers in relation to the company’s employees, however, is radically high: “The ratio of contractors to direct employees is high: While Uber has roughly 4 million drivers, the company has 27,000 employees.” (Bensinger) Therefore, to disregard its drivers as formal employees ultimately makes it seem like Uber is ignoring the presence and impact of the majority of its company. Furthermore, the main problem that Uber believes it is facing when referring to their drivers as employees versus a third party transportation system comes with management of liability. Granting their drivers with benefits as if they are employees and allowing drivers to easily refer to the company for support would ultimately make Uber a public company with full force and responsibility for all parties involved. Although it may seem like this is a fair case for the company to not want to hold responsibility, it is true that drivers lack proper treatment by the company and many believe they are deserving of improvements among their work for Uber.


Indeed, the drivers are participating in a gig economy, which is a low commitment, short term market that allows for collaboration among multiple parties. Through the cellular app system, Uber is able to create a profit by “deducting a commission from the automatic electronic payment made for every ride or gig arranged on their apps” (Riley). This structure of a rideshare app allows for the maximum use of products and time in order to ensure the greatest possible outcome. For example, if Uber didn’t exist, those drivers would be searching for jobs or lying on their couch during those working hours. Meanwhile, the riders themselves would be overpaying for a taxi ride across town. Through Uber, riders are able to save money and can even minimize traffic on the road if they choose to participate in Uber pool as well.

https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/gig-economy-what-it-means-for-hr/
An image of the logos of a variety of gig economy participants.

The negative outlook on gig economies come from the lack of protection and secure incomes that is provided to those involved. There is only so much they can do to ensure their participation, and if there are some drivers that are better than others, all are still compensated at the same rate. Examples of superior drivers include being early for pickup/ arrival, driving responsibly, having snacks or drinks, and overall, giving their riders an enjoyable experience. Most recently, riders have even been given the option to tip their drivers, further compensating those who are deserving of it for their hard work. However, more generally, the risk of a gig economy is that all those who participate are receiving their compensation from the company at a minimum and there is an equal form of communication among parties in order to ensure simple connection as separate from any type of security (provided by Uber for the drivers).


Uber drivers continue to strike due to the inefficiency of the support under the company’s general mission to provide the best service to both the driver and the rider. In fact, according to Joellen Riley’s chapter in New Directions for Law in Australia, titled “Brand New ‘Sharing’ or Plain Old ‘Sweating’? A Proposal for Regulating the New ‘Gig Economy’”, she states that Uber doesn’t even “provide any tools of trade for the worker, apart from maintaining the app that connects supply and demand in the market for the work.” (Riley 60) Indeed, the driver must maintain their own car while they work and keep up with the demands of the job. They need to please customers with their physical space as well as their general experience among their treatment as a rider. The pleasure of the work comes from the fact that the workers decide how much time they want to put into the job. Furthermore, Uber argues that the drivers can’t be direct employees of the company, for they would then all have to follow rules of general regulation. Currently, the beauty of the job is its flexibility as a driver. Therefore, if Uber were to refer to its drivers as more than just a third party transportation system, the drivers would most likely have to follow regulated hours of work and commitment to the company.

For more information regarding the role of the drivers and their actual dependence on the company within this gig economy system, read here (Riley, New Directions for Law in Australia, Chapter 4):
https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/j.ctt1ws7wbh.9.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Af5d2dcabe599f7fa0f8d7ef802d90e38

What’s most fascinating about the relationship between the drivers and the company is the fact that the company still has great control over the drivers despite its denial of any profession relation between the two parties. Most recently, the company actually altered the costs of rides in order to solidify a plan for the future that would decrease pay of drivers, increase the price of rides, and succeed in increasing total revenue for the company’s future. However, this idea was not enough for the company to rise up against competitors. In fact, Uber had to let thousands of its employees within their corporate offices go, cutting many jobs from its marketing team and even letting go of some of its top executives. They simply could not afford to continue paying so many employees within its own corporate system because financial debt was getting to its peak increase: “Everybody knows that Uber can’t lose billions of dollars a quarter forever, but it’s always been a question of when the money might run out.” (Conger, Isaac) Rideshare participator, Harry Cambell, goes on to say that “We’ve seen Uber institute a number of cost-cutting measures at the driver and rider level and now the cuts are coming to the corporate side of the business in order to move towards profitability.” (Conger, Isaac) Uber has more to worry about as a general business, considering its most recent quarterly loss with a number of 5.2 billion. Therefore, the issue of driver wages/ benefits stems from an even greater mess of the company just trying to maintain a profit that is regularly successful.


There isn’t much that can be done regarding the relationship among workers and Uber as a company, since treating them like employees would ultimately take away the flexibility that comes with the unique job. Although, the biggest goal or the company right now would be to increase profit among drivers without having to change too much about the system on the riders’ end. Perhaps, because it is a technological system, the jobs within the corporate office are the foundation of this issue. The capability of technology seems limitless, so I am curious if the work done by elite executives within Uber’s office could easily be completed through the power of digital media. If so, the money that is being paid to individuals in the office could be redistributed to the company’s drivers in accordance to their commitment and hard work!

Works Cited

Riley, Joellen. “Brand New ‘Sharing’ or Plain Old ‘Sweating’?: A Proposal for Regulating the New ‘Gig Economy.’” New Directions for Law in Australia: Essays in Contemporary Law Reform, edited by RON LEVY et al., ANU Press, Australia, 2017, pp. 59–70. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1ws7wbh.9.

Conger, Kate, and Mike Isaac. “Uber Lays Off Hundreds More Workers as It Struggles to Make Money.” New York Times, 10 Sept. 2019.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/technology/uber-layoffs.html

Bensinger, Greg. “Uber: The Ride-Hailing App That Says It Has ‘Zero’ Drivers.” The Washington Post, 14 Oct. 2019
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/10/14/uber-ride-hailing-app-that-says-it-has-zero-drivers/

O’Brien, Sara A. “Why Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Striking.” CNN, 8 May 2019.
https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/07/tech/uber-driver-strike-ipo/index.html

Final Website Vision and Reflection

Over the course of the semester, I decided to reorganize my website my changing the layout. I wanted the direct webpage to be simple and easy to navigate, and I found my previous design didn’t direct my audience’s attention to the necessary information right away. I imagined my website to be very pleasing to the eye but not too overwhelming, so now I have organized it in a way that is in order and simple to view. I was not able to do as many “about the writer” posts as I wanted to in order to inform my audience more about me, but I find my recent podcast project in my last post shows a great deal of my personality. I was able to accomplish my goals of showing my curiosities and theories about the Digital media age in accordance to my class project. I also decided to make an extra blogpost of the digital media in my life because I wanted my viewers to understand what forms of media I rely most on. Making a website was definitely harder than I expected because there are so many different themes and ideas to choose from when it comes to it’s design, but I just need more time to explore them! I plan to use my experience with this website to help me decide the best way to display information on a public forum in the near future! However, making this website definitely helped me incorporate the class material into my creation because we were studying the impact of digital media and how it’s presentation can affect one’s interpretation!

My Creative Project

Tate Schreiber
Artist’s Statement

I decided to completely shift the presentation of my creative project because I wanted to put more focus on my experience with my Uber drivers and their opinions. I felt like if I included the viewpoint of the company’s executives that it would take away vital information from my research that I was planning to use in my final paper. I certainly wanted to highlight the creativeness in my discoveries among this digital media rather than have it be overpowered by scholarly articles and facts! I decided to compare each aspect of Uber that I touch on to the ingredients of a chocolate cookie because I am such a visual learner and tend to really understand something more when I have something to compare it to. My final project topic is ultimately about the relationship between the drivers of Uber and the company itself, so I hope to incorporate more scholarly resources including data regarding the outrage and protests that have occurred from the negative outlook of drivers. My project touches more on the actual opinion of these drivers and what they feel should be changed in order to make this App better! This project fits into our general classroom discussion because it is about how modern technology is something which humans use daily and are dependent on, despite the moments when digital media doesn’t always work properly. I certainly think that Uber has done great things for the transportation system as well as the basic economy, for it grants jobs to many who are working for simple work on the side or with more control/ flexibility. I’m excited to cover the positives and negatives among the relationship between the parties connected with Uber in order to bring all perspectives to the table for the public eye! Connecting each aspect of Uber to a chocolate chip cookie ingredient along with the Uber driver experience certainly made me think about the bigger picture of this company and all the circumstances that could occur among the company’s relationship!

Creative Project Link: file:///Users/haleytateschreiber/Desktop/Creative%20Project%20for%20Digital%20Media.mp4

Unfortunately, I have been told the link above does not work, but I have attached a shareable google drive link that works.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/16oMSBIMSNmnWale4oiYjUQ0zjdK5dSIC/view?usp=sharing

Research Essay Rough Draft

Uber has progressed immensely since it was created just over ten years ago. Designed as a rideshare system to beat out the current transportation mechanisms, Uber certainly succeeded from its reduction in price, faster speed, and general efficiency for millions of individuals to get from place to place, whether the distance be small or far.

The initial direction of my research consisted of Uber driver’s experiences and their relationship with the company. I was immediately more invested in the drivers rather than the riders due to the recent strikes that have developed across the US regarding improper payment and treatment among Uber drivers. Although each location has a variation in wages, almost all areas are looking to make a change in payment for drivers, and with this comes the debate of whether or not they are actually apart of the company. Uber has argued over the past few years that the drivers who participate in the app are actually a third party transportation system and don’t have any relationship with Uber, which ought to be a false advertisement. Furthermore, when damage is done or mistakes are made, the drivers reach out to the Uber company itself for support, rather than a third party that observes as their higher authority. Therefore, what needs to change is the relationship between the company and the drivers in order to build a stronger and more successful transportation system on all sides.

However, another struggle which the company comes across is the need for the proper amount of employees. With such immediate success, the company’s growth skyrocketed and became desperate for a large amount of employees to help cover the overwhelming amount of work and development that needed to be done. Despite such a great increase in employment, the company was unable to form loyal connections with its customers and between fellow employees, ultimately hurting their efficient network and lacking professionalism because they had too many employees to keep track of.

Like I said before, the drivers themselves, both full and part time, have never been considered as Uber’s employees, according to the company. In fact, it is referred to as a gig economy, where its a short term market that allows two different parties to collaborate at their greatest convenience. However, those drivers have to provide raw materials in order to make their experience as a driver better than their competition. For example, some drivers will shadow their riders with gifts and music, while others will not say a word and leave their rider at peace unless they ask for something. Ultimately, Uber has created logistics and rules for drivers to follow in order to make the Uber experience satisfying for all those involved, but it certainly is unclear whether or not Uber wants to claim responsibility for the drivers. It seems as if they only want to be associated with another party if it is beneficial to the company’s image. If something negative comes up, then I find that Uber would quickly drop any notice of association.

Creative Project Rough Draft

Questions:
Why did you decide to start driving for Uber?
What are your favorite and least favorite things about the job?
How do you communicate with the company?
How do you feel about your relationship with the company and how could that relationship be improved?
What changes do you think Uber could make to improve the quality of their service?
How could the Uber App be improved to better the communication between the driver and the rider?
How do you feel that Uber has been/ has not been beneficial to the economy?
Where do you see Uber (and the general world of rideshare systems) in ten years?
What do you think Uber should do about the driver protests happening across the nation? Why do you think such protests are happening and what should Uber do to fix it?
What other jobs should be made/ eliminated within the Uber company in order to make it more successful?

First point: Debebe, White Toyota
Second point: Carly, Silver Kia
Third Point: Thomas, White Kia

I have quickly realized that my rides are too short for drivers to answer all my questions. I have recorded their answers and have reviewed the interviews in order to simplify the answers which I have typed out below. I plan on asking the remaining five questions to my next three drivers during this upcoming week.

Answer to Question #1:
– Needed to make a little extra money on the side
– Lost marketing position in company and want to keep making some money while they look for more work
– Really enjoys talking to people and wanted to learn about their new city since they just moved here

Answers to Question #2:
– My favorite thing is the accuracy of the App. It knows all the hidden roads around Atlanta and pinpoints me to the right destination. My least favorite thing is that the App sometimes makes decisions for itself. It’ll decide to tell me to pick up a rider in the opposite place than where they are actually located because it picks up the wrong current location
– My favorite thing is the flexibility I have as a driver and my least favorite thing is probably the bad customers I pick up when I drive late at night.
– I really like being able to work from my own car but I do wish I got paid a little more. I also hate Uber Pool

Answer to Question #3:
– I don’t really communicate much with them because I’d never had a problem. I just put in my info and get paid for my work.
– I had a lot of things happen in this car and have had to call about a lot of bad customers. Uber’s always been very cooperative about getting my car cleaned or fixed.
– Uber took an extremely long time to fix my last paycheck and they almost didn’t give me my payment for a full week. It wasn’t until I told them I had a lawyer that they actually paid me.

Answer to Question #4:
– The relationship is fine. Maybe if they had like a check-in system to ask about improvements that could be beneficial.
– I wish I knew when I am talking to a computer and when I am talking to an actual human.
– It’d be cool if people in the company actually had some experience of what the driver’s side is like because sometimes they’ll try to help me and have no idea what I am talking about.

Answer to Question #5:
– When customers are allowed to present feedback, it’d be beneficial for the Uber driver to see all their feedback right away so we can immediately make the improvement.
– I certainly find that accuracy could be improved because it sometimes takes me forever to find the costumer. Maybe the costumer should only be able to get picked up on an actual street or main pickup spot instead of the middle of nowhere
– I would love for the App to stop using Uber pool. I’m pretty sure they lose money from it and it’s just more confusing for riders and drivers.

Answer to Question #6:

– I feel like anyone sharing the ride should have access to my phone number and be able to call me. They should only be allowed to split it before getting in the car.
– Riders got to know that I’m not gonna let eight people squeeze into my car.
-It’d be cool if riders could preference based on snacks and Uber amenities. Maybe it should cost an extra fifty cents if someone wants to have water or snacks in the car.

Answer to Question #7:

Answer to Question #8:

Answer to Question #9:

Answer to Question #10:

I am using the interviews for a recording of two 4-6 minute podcasts opposing one another in favor and against the Uber company and its purpose. I am using these answers in both podcasts depending on how they connect with the support towards Uber. The podcast in favor of Uber is primarily based off of research and thus far I have 2 minutes and 13 seconds records displaying my information in the perspective of an Uber executive. My second podcast is in the perspective of the drivers and is already approximately three and a half minutes long. All I have left to add to each podcast is any beneficial information I receive to support my argument from the answers to the remaining questions.

Creative Project Proposal

For my creative project, I would like to interview my Uber drivers about their experience with the company. Thus far, the majority of my research has been focused on the role of the driver. I have discovered why individuals decide to participate in Uber, why some choose to go against it, as well as the company’s relationship with its drivers (if they even consider such individuals as part of their own company and not a third party transportation service). I find that I will be able to get a better understanding of my research topics if I am able to start real conversations with the individuals who are driving me from point A to point B and get their perspective on my topic. I plan on first collecting data on the background of the driver. I would like to know their reason for driving, how long they have been driving, how they like Uber in comparison to past work. Then, I would like to ask them about their communication with the company. I want to know every compliment and complaint that these drivers have to say about the company they work for. Because I use Uber as my main form of transportation to work, that puts me at six Uber rides just during the week. Furthermore, I also use the app for dinner outings throughout the week, so I assume I can get a good amount of coverage for my project. As a way to display my findings, I would like to create two podcasts. One will be in the perspective of fictional Uber executives, advocating for their company’s success and efficiency in today’s modern world and separating themselves from the responsibility of the thirty party for transportation (the drivers). I will develop what I want to say using my research about the positive relationship between the two parties as well as the benefits of the app. Then, I will create a second podcast using my research about the drivers and their opinion of the company, including references from my personal conversations during some of my rides. I plan to allow my interviews to supplement my research, however, I want the majority of my podcast in the perspective of the drivers to be mainly against Uber, since the Uber executive podcast is already arguing in favor of the company. However, it will be important for me to use the background data about my drivers in both podcasts, and I can use certain interviews to help supplement my argument for either podcast as well.

Annotated Bibliography

Addition Three Sources:

O’Brien, Sara A. “Why Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Striking.” CNN, 8 May 2019.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/07/tech/uber-driver-strike-ipo/index.html

Uber drivers have organized strikes in order to improve their conditions as employees. The specific demands vary by location, but each area is generally looking for changes in earnings/ wages as well as off-road terms when drivers choose to take a break from driving (and how it affects pay). The importance of striking in this day in age has to do with Uber’s power, being a company that was instantly something everybody knew about and changed all of transportation for the future. The company is about to hit it’s ten year mark and has progressed significantly over the years. However the company chooses to react to the strikes will pave the way for the future. I find this article to be insightful among my research because it gives specific examples regarding why strikes are happening and why it is important that they are happening during this time. 

Bensinger, Greg. “Uber: The Ride-Hailing App That Says It Has ‘Zero’ Drivers.” The Washington Post, 14 Oct. 2019

Uber believes that it’s driver’s aren’t necessarily included in it’s recipe for successful revenue. In fact, the company recently denied any relation to the idea that it is a provider to transportation. Instead, the drivers are considered a third part to the company. Uber is a unique system compared to other gig economy systems because the drivers are actually interacting with the customers in person. If the car crashes, it is not just the Uber driver in the car, but also the customer. Having such a relationship with the drivers makes Uber seem like a company more concerned about legal consequence, but unfortunately, the company is in a bigger mess because legally, the drivers should be under their employment as their partners. It’s heavy involvement in the interaction between the driver and customer make the nature of the system seem automatic in their relationship. This article is helpful to my research because it is deeply invested in the legal issue of Uber referring to its drivers as unassociated with its process. Denial of connection is discussed by members of the company but also through controversial cases involving Uber and third party drivers.

Conger, Kate, and Mike Isaac. “Uber Lays Off Hundreds More Workers as It Struggles to Make Money.” New York Times, 10 Sept. 2019.

Uber struggles to maintain a good system with such a great amount of employees, therefore, the second round of layoffs this year was recently made in result. The growth of the company originally called for a major increase in employers, but once things are stabilized, the work of so many hurt the company more than it helped them. The cut of employees took place across multiple departments, once the function of that department was questioned in accordance to the success of the company. Their freelance system allows Uber to provide all the necessary benefits to its employees, therefore, laborers are getting less on their end and Uber is getting away with it. I found the recent cuts to be important in understanding how the system has flawed economically behind the scenes of the driver and within the heart of the company. Obviously, the role of the driver in my entire project is important, but the failure of the company on the inside also has an effect on a driver’s experience working with the company. 

Academic Articles:

“MOTIVATIONS TO DRIVE: How Uber’s System Rewards Full-Time and Recreational Drivers Differently.” Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work, by ALEX ROSENBLAT, 1st ed., University of California Press, Oakland, California, 2018, pp. 49–72. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctv5cgbm3.6.

The purpose of Uber’s full time/ part time system allows for drivers to decrease high fees weighing on their back, or it gives someone who is financially stable a little more money to feel extra comfortable. This article also discusses the range of drivers behind the wheel for Uber, since some simply need a change in career, an extra supply of income, or a way to fill time. The purpose of the driver ultimately impacts the experience of the rider, such as improving social skills or being exposed to a variety of different identities. Personal drivers are interviewed in this article to prove that the reason to become a driver varies from one side of the world to the other. Some want to explore their local city while others want to get out of their current career. Meanwhile, the benefits to choosing part time versus full time are explained out of the opinion of the driver. They range from lack of commitment to desire for compensation. However, something that both full time and part time drivers share is the love for flexibility, but the commitment is short term and doesn’t necessarily solve a long term solution for them. Although some drivers do make good money, it is not common and that money does not allow them to live lavishly. This article benefits my research of determining why exactly drivers choose to drive for Uber and what keeps them connected with the company. There are many more reasons other than the need for a small economic boost that persuade people to get involved!

Riley, Joellen. “Brand New ‘Sharing’ or Plain Old ‘Sweating’?: A Proposal for Regulating the New ‘Gig Economy.’” New Directions for Law in Australia: Essays in Contemporary Law Reform, edited by RON LEVY et al., ANU Press, Australia, 2017, pp. 59–70. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1ws7wbh.9.

Among the “gig” economy, there are various systems that provide rideshare opportunities for workers interested in a short term, collaborative market. Uber is described as a multimillion dollar company that has created a unique connection among its users and its service, but its also increasing profit based on the raw labor system. Their workers ultimately have to provide their own time, tools, and gadgets to reach maximum performance, encouraging a competition among drivers to succeed based on the effort and commitment that they put into the system. However, what is most interesting about this article is the regulation among the agreement of the drivers, for the formal agreement under Uber states that there is no relation between the company and the transportation provided to users. It simply describes Uber as an operator of a technical system. Such a statement makes it hard to understand the relationship between Uber and its drivers, because the company also does things like determine fairs and payment to the driver. Therefore, their relationship is complex, and there is a fine line between workers relying on their own work within this economy versus the work of Uber as their alternative employer. This article is significant to my research because it allows me to understand the connection between Uber drivers and and their relationship to the company through their use of the app. We often judge Uber based on our own experiences, so it’s time to start questioning the role of the drivers and how much freedom they have away from the app.

Video:

“Introducing the New Driver App, Your Partner on the Road.” Uber, 2019, www.uber.com/us/en/drive/driver-app/

This video allows drivers to see the improvements and benefits of the new Driver app that Uber has created. The app gives the driver information about traffic and customer interest from any area, making their experience as a driver more free and knowledgable. It is important to recognize the significance of apps like these in the experience of the driver, for it probably makes their time driving a lot easier and stress free. I find that this app would encourage someone to begin driving because they would be directed to the right and wrong places whenever they wanted to be there. Furthermore, an app like this allows for our eyes to see what we would never be able to have access to unless in person. Giving the drivers access to the app is an incentive to use Uber rather than using your own care because the passengers will know that the drivers will be taking the fastest possible route.

Personal Essay

It has come to the point that I rely on Uber as my main method of transportation if I am traveling anywhere further than a mile and a half. I’ve gone through phases with the many modes of transportation across Atlanta, including the Emory shuttle, the MARTA, and Bird Electric Scooters. However, I find that Uber is the most efficient, safe, and effective transportation system when I am trying to get from point A to point B along the busy Atlanta streets.
I first discovered Uber when I was a sophomore in high school. While on a family trip, my sister suggested that we use it as a cheaper option in comparison to the taxi system. My parents were immediately impressed by the application and its purpose, for they had always been used to calling taxis and paying overpriced fees for the quick rides. However, times were changing, and it was clear that our phones were going to allow us to do far more than what are parents were capable of when they were growing up. Communication through technology was no longer about calling someone on the phone, but rather more personal and concise updates, like posting your whereabouts every hour or getting groceries delivered straight to your door. Though my parents were skeptical about the idea of getting into a stranger’s car to travel, the Uber App assures its passengers that all drivers have been cleared and license plates and names are provided for identity confirmation.
Uber has progressed greatly since it’s initial creation. They have supplied multiple options of travel through the app to save money, time, and the environment. For example, there is a carpool option that allows for passengers to get grouped together if their drop off and pick up locations are of similar distance. The carpool option stretches out the time of one’s ride a bit longer, but the price is cheaper and it is a benefit to the environment. Meanwhile, you can also request nicer cars, so if you are attending a special event, you can arrive in style. Furthermore, Uber also has made changes based on safety concerns. It allows passengers and drivers to coordinate more precisely by having a color code match a car light to the passenger’s phone. Finally, traffic patterns are also updated, and Uber now reminds passengers to be careful of bikers or pedestrians in higher populated areas.
I’ve been a fan of Uber ever since I started college. Freshman year, my use of Uber consisted of grocery store trips and spontaneous outings to hole-in-the-wall restaurants across Atlanta. Since my junior year, I have lived off campus about a mile away from school. I try to walk to school everyday, but sometimes I hitch a ride with my roommates or neighbors if it looks like we are leaving at the same time the following morning. However, every so often I pay six dollars to get to school via Uber, when I could have walked for free if I didn’t snooze my alarm four times.
Nowadays, I heavily rely on Uber as my main form of transportation to my job downtown. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I head downtown for 6-10 hours starting at 8:30am. It took some time to get used to understanding Uber’s high and low traffic and usage points, but I’ve been in my routine for a decent amount of time and have discovered the hacks! For example, on Fridays, I have to leave my home a lot earlier in the morning, since the roads are busier so it’ll take me a lot longer to get to work. I also have to be cautious on Mondays and Wednesdays because although there is less traffic, there are also less individuals driving for Uber on the road. For example, sometimes I have to wait up to twenty minutes for an Uber to arrive at my home because there aren’t many in my immediate area.
There are a lot of things about Uber that frustrate me, but I continue using the system because I find I have become extremely dependent on it. There is something so easy about the fact that I can now get from one place to another by simply clicking a few buttons and relaxing in a back seat of a stranger’s car. I find that Uber has been most helpful in preventing situations like drunk driving or dangerous solo traveling. It’s much safer to hop in the back of an Uber rather than behind a wheel. It’ll also make someone feel a lot better to be in the back of someone’s approved car instead of alone on the subway at midnight. The many mechanisms that Uber provides makes it a system that people want to try due to its safety and efficiency.
Overtime, I have seen Uber develop across many platforms and rise as well as decrease in popularity. I have had the pleasure of experiencing Uber in multiple cities, noticing a difference in drivers and pricing. After living in Los Angeles this past summer, I have never been more appreciative of the southern charm and low pricing of the Atlanta area within the system. I have heard about Uber collapsing and rebuilding, but its purpose has never changed. It simply serves the duty of getting passengers from one place to another. I certainly appreciate the business, and it’s given me the chance to learn more about the city I’m in and the people that live in it! For the most part, drivers are eager to learn about their passengers and are excited to be an employee of Uber. I am interested to learn more about the relationship between drivers and the company. More specifically, I would like to know if the drivers find that they are paid well through the App, especially after UberPool was created and rides became far cheaper. I am also curious about the communication between the company and their drivers, and how they keep all their employees under the same umbrella of rules and regulations. I plan to learn more about this topic by speaking with my drivers on a regular basis and organizing my data to recognize any trends or abnormal answers.