UCLA Labor Center Report Finds that Uber & Lyft are Pocketing a Larger Share of Passenger Fares for NYC Trips
Analyzing approximately 50 million trips during four separate months between 2019 and 2022, the report also found that Uber & Lyft took the highest commissions during the worst of the pandemic and that passenger fares have gone up significantly more than driver pay.2/9/2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Contact: For NYTWA – Eliza M. Bates, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, 646.285.8491; For UCLA Labor Center – Emily Jo Wharry, firstname.lastname@example.org, (310) 617-5609
Los Angeles, CA & New York, NY: On Thursday, February 9, the UCLA Labor Center released a report analyzing approximately 50 million NYC Uber and Lyft trips. The report findings shed light on passenger fares, commission taken by the companies, and driver pay in light of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission’s minimum pay rules for app drivers.
Key findings include:
- Uber and Lyft pocketed a larger share of passenger fares (and gave a smaller percentage to the drivers) in 2022 than in 2019 when the city’s minimum pay standard went into effect. In February 2019 (when TLC first implemented the driver pay rules), companies took 9% of passenger fare compared to 20.7% in April 2022.
- Passenger fares have increased significantly more than driver pay. From February 2019 to April 2022, median driver pay increased by 31% compared to an increase of 50% for median passenger fare.
- Uber and Lyft took the highest average commissions (21.4%) during the worst of the pandemic in April 2020 when drivers were most at risk.
- Uber & Lyft took 30% or more in commission on many more trips in 2022 than in 2019. In February 2019, the companies took 30% or more of the fare on about 9% of the rides. In April 2022, the companies took a 30% or more cut of the passenger fare for 29% of all rides.
“Right now, New York is unique in its ability to regulate a pay standard and earnings protections for ride-hail drivers,” said Saba Waheed, Research Director at the UCLA Labor Center. “But additional protections — increased transparency around company commissions, proportional increases between passenger fare and driver pay — would go far in ensuring that drivers are receiving the full benefits of their work.”
NYTWA members who drive for Uber joined UCLA researchers for a virtual press conference to discuss the findings.
Uber driver Samassa Tidiane said: “Since I started driving for Uber in 2014, the company has taken a bigger and bigger cut of each fare. Sometimes they take 50 percent of the fare the passenger pays. Everything comes out of drivers’ pockets. Uber doesn’t pay for our cars, our gas, our insurance, our vehicle maintenance. They even charge us to take our pay out of our Uber accounts — all this while the prices for everything are going up and drivers are struggling to feed our families. This report shows the world in real data what Uber greed looks like. Us drivers see that greed every day.”
Uber drivers are planning a third strike on February 26 — this time at LaGuardia Airport — to demand raises that Uber blocked with a lawsuit. The Taxi and Limousine Commission reintroduced the raises and will hold a hearing on March 1.
NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said, “Just a day after Uber reported record revenue, we’re seeing how the company profited off of drivers who spent the year choosing between fuel and food. Meanwhile, Uber sued to stop NYC driver raises saying that increasing driver pay would cause irreparable financial harm to the company, but it’s clear that greed is what’s driving Uber. It’s greed that drove Uber and Lyft to take the highest commissions when drivers were at the most risk during the worst of the pandemic, and it’s greed that has driven them to pocket more and more of passenger fares, leaving a smaller share for struggling drivers.”
About the New York Taxi Workers Alliance
Founded in 1998, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) is the over 25,000-member strong union of NYC taxicab drivers, representing yellow cab drivers, green car, and black car drivers, including drivers for Uber and Lyft. We fight for justice, rights, respect and dignity for the over 150,000 licensed men and women who often labor 12 hour shifts with little pay and few protections in the city’s mobile sweatshop. Our members come from every community, garage, and neighborhood. To find out more visit NYTWA.org, follow us on twitter.com/nytwa or like us on facebook.com/nytwa.
About the UCLA Labor Center
The UCLA Labor Center believes that a public university belongs to the people and should advance quality education and employment for all. Every day we bring together workers, students, faculty, and policymakers to address the most critical issues facing working people today. Our research, education, and policy work lifts industry standards, creates jobs that are good for communities, and strengthens immigrant rights, especially for students and youth. The UCLA Labor Center is housed in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the study, teaching, and discussion of labor and employment issues at UCLA.