uberxTaxi drivers and UberX drivers do the same job: Shuttle people around town. But one group is making far more money than the other.

The Washington Post notes today that UberX drivers working at least 40 hours per week are pulling in, on average, more than $90,000 in New York City and nearly $75,000 in San Francisco. That’s just as much, or in some cases even more than what the average tech worker in America makes.

It’s also more than triple the average median salary of a U.S. taxi driver, which is about $25,000.

Here in Seattle, Uber told us that UberX drivers — who use their own vehicles to transport passengers — make $54,000 per year, on average. That’s still about $20,000 more than your average Seattle taxi driver.

Frustrated Uber drivers formed an association earlier this month to "protect dignity." Photo via Teamsters.
Frustrated Uber drivers formed an association earlier this month to “protect dignity.” Photo via Teamsters.

There are plenty of reasons for this. While Uber takes a 20 percent cut, Uber drivers can set their own hours and don’t waste time/gas looking around for passengers thanks to the company’s efficient business model that utilizes smartphone technology. Taxi drivers, meanwhile, are required to pay for commercial insurance and a bevy of other fees mandated by city and state governments, many of which have banned companies like Uber — Seattle may soon do so — because they are shuttling people around without regulation. Taxi drivers also rely on a paid dispatcher, while Uber drivers do not.

But not every Uber driver is happy. Here in Seattle, Uber and UberX drivers angry with how they’ve been treated formed a new association earlier this month. Members say they’re fed up with the way Uber removes drivers from its system, and are concerned about sufficient liability coverage to protect drivers and riders.

Taxi drivers have also raised concerns about Uber, so much so that the Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association sued Uber in March for operating illegally in Seattle and King County. The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, claimed that Uber “engages in an unlawful and deceptive business practice which harms the economic interests of taxicab drivers.”

Uber, which is headquartered in San Francisco and now has operations in more than 60 cities worldwide, is seeking a $12 billion valuation and could raise up to $500 million in its latest funding round. The Washington Post notes that in 2014, 20,000 drivers are joining Uber per month.

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  • B

    Is that Revenue or Net Income?

    • Kary

      I would assume the former since they wouldn’t know the expense side, unless maybe they know the miles driven and assume the IRS mileage allowance.

  • Guest

    Excellent! As a tech worker concerned about the plight of the poor, I’m very pleased that TNCs offer such great opportunity. The men who say “no” to TNC innovation are saying “yes” to serfdom and to poverty.

    No more poors! Yes more TNC drivers!

  • Gurest

    The article is comparing apples to oranges and is way too close to an Uber press release. When you subtract out the insurance and licensing fees that they are not paying, the gasoline and tolls that aren’t included, regular cleaning costs, plus the $10,000 or so amortized cost of the car they’re using up, it doesn’t look nearly as good. Are Uber’s numbers before or after the 20% they keep? Drivers don’t “make” what they have to pay out, whether it’s in the cost of replacing their car every few years, insurance, or to Uber. Also, do the hours estimates include one of their taxi drivers is waiting for a fare? It should.

    You’re also comparing rates in some of the highest priced markets in the country with a national average.

    • SamuelRoby

      They should. But geekwire turned into paid ride-sharing propaganda mouse piece months ago. Now they’re just following the agenda.

  • SamuelRoby

    Ride-sharing fraudsters evade taxes en masse. They also paying ZERO for local business permits. These are a law-breaking tax-evading profits.

  • guest

    “Taxi drivers, meanwhile, are required to pay for commercial insurance…”

    My understanding is that personal insurance doesn’t cover driving for commercial purposes. So why aren’t Uber drivers required to have commercial insurance? Does “smartphone technology” magically replace insurance, business licensing, and regulation?

    Honestly, Taylor, when you write stuff like “thanks to the company’s efficient business model that utilizes smartphone technology” you sound like a shill. Try a little NPOV sometime.

    • Uber Driver

      Uber has a supplemental insurance that covers drivers, but only if a driver has an accident while transporting a passenger. A driver’s personal insurance must cover any other accident.

  • SamuelRoby

    Ride-sharing “efficient business model” lulz.
    It only is as efficient as any another tax-evading law-breaking money-laundering scheme. What’s next? “Bank robberies are an efficient
    business model”, I assume? Let’s include it in GDP.

  • elbowman

    @Taylor_Soper:disqus looks like many @geekwire:disqus readers are on to your copy/paste PR release method of reporting.

    Even in the U.K. Uber drivers are required to carry commercial insurance. Here in the U.S., not so much.

    It’s easy to compete when you cheat!

  • Ed O

    Glad to see the Taxi lobby has one or two guys that get on here in the comments to rip Uber every chance they get.

  • elbowman

    Meanwhile, someone is writing real news about Uber/Lyft/Sidecar, http://pando.com/2014/05/26/uber-unites-taxi-drivers-and-owners-in-a-beautiful-partnership-of-hatred/, Thanks, Ted Rall!

    • Yo

      Money line from your referenced article “Over 90 years of regulation in Connecticut have produced a set of rules designed to meet the needs…”

      And that’s the problem. If cabs were meeting the “needs” (as determined not by the market but by the owners and government officials), there wouldn’t be an Uber. But there is an Uber. Because the existing systems didn’t do the job.

      • elbowman

        Hey Yo, the problem is you don’t start a legitimate business by breaking the law. You work within the legal framework of the city, state, or nation, where you’re attempting to do business. You follow the laws/regulations in place. If you feel they are unjust you fight for change within the established process. To do anything else, like Uber/Lyft/Sidecar are doing is simply anarchy. That’s not how we do things in America.

        • UnderSerf

          It is how “we do things” NOW. Bypassing the law and calling it progress is just the Way of the Web (I’m always amazed that kiddie porn isn’t permitted to be a billion-dollar industry). But the massive profits won’t last. I still recall all the pundits predicting the end of the recording industry model when Napster was huge. Sony is still here, Napster is – not. But as long as a few get rich, it doesn’t matter what damage is done – someone else will clean up the mess…

  • John Kane

    No, Uber drivers don’t make mad money, and if they do, they aren’t doing it legally.

    First of all, they are all operating illegally, i.e. without proper commercial level insurance. Second, they are also operating illegally with regards to their own personal policies: personal auto insurance policies require that you disclose to your insurance company if you are using your personal vehicle for commercial purposes. To not disclose this to the insurance company is FRAUD, pure and simple. As soon as an insurance company learns that an Uber driver was using their personal vehicle to transport customers for commercial purposes, they will refuse to pay.

    Commercial level auto insurance is very, very expensive. Cab companies in my community are required to carry $1 million per incident coverage. Uber drivers do not have that level of coverage. So they are basically committing fraud in order to make the money this article claims. That’s not really making money in any legitimate sense.

    Lastly, vehicle upkeep over time is a huge cost that needs to be factored in. Naive Uber drivers might think they’re making money, but they also haven’t taken into account the vehicle wear and tear they are incurring over time. Their personal vehicle will breakdown sooner, have more problems. Pizza delivery drivers know all about this.

    Uber drivers are basically committing fraud, creating situations of high risk with little real auto insurance coverage, i.e. coverage that’s appropriate for a commercial enterprise.

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    First, Taylor Soper, boy journalist, should learn the difference between gross revenue and profit. Profit is what the driver takes home. To claim that an UberX driver is making more than the average tech worker is absurd. To compare a median salary for a taxi driver with UberX gross revenue is apples and oranges.

  • Not Associated with Uber

    Does every taxi company pay it’s dispatchers to post here or does it just seem that way?

  • lawrence

    So Uber is worth $12B ? Or is this just more of the latest scam to steal people’s money using hyped IPOs? (That crash and burn later.)

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      No. UberX and Lyft do not have anything special. The apps are a dime a dozen. In Seattle the Flywheel app works the same as UberX and Lyft. Rates are the same. The big difference is that Flywheel is only dispatching licensed and insured for hire vehicles while UberX/Lyft are cutting corners by running an illegal opertaion.

      • UnderSerf

        I stumbled on to them myself when Yellow refused to send a cab to my area – Flywheel drivers must be a little hungrier ;)

  • sol

    lets say uber drivers make mad money, how long is that going to last? one, two years before the whole city population signs up to become a driver?
    A lot of these uber drivers are choking streets in the downtown area increasing accident risk to everybody and allowing insurance companies to raise insurance premiums for everyone.
    Uber ceo just called the taxi industry assholes. The special ceo cant believe people can actually fight for their livelihood.

  • foulkeyu

    Let’s say I’m riding in an UberX driven by a guy with little money and either no insurance or only insurance that covers personal driving. An accident occurs that’s the driver’s fault and I’m injured severely. Am I out of luck, whereas if I was in a licensed cab, I know they’d have at least a million dollars of coverage? Honest question here with no agenda.

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    It is interesting that Uber is bragging about the gross revenue that full time UberX drivers make in New York City. An NYC UberX vehicle has to be licensed as a “For Hire vehicle” by the TLC (Taxi LImousine Commission). The vehicle has to carry TLC approved commercial insurance and the driver has to get a For Hire license.

    In most states, including Washington, UberX drivers are cutting corners with invalid non-commercial insurance. In NYC UberX drivers are shelling out $8 to $9K a year while here they are paying $800 annually.

    So the question is, if UberX drivers are operating with commercial insurance and for hire licenses in New York, why can’t they do that in Washington state?

  • Fuck uber and Lyft

    Liars this is bullshit uber driver never make 90000 even 50000 I’m the uber driver after payment for the car insurance and gas it’s maximum 20000

  • dave w

    I drive for uber…..and the above leaves out one HUGE expense for the cabbies….their feudal lord cab owners charge them HUNDREDS a week to rent the cab. Is it any wonder the cab owners lose drivers to Uber….and you never hear the cab companies bring up this piece

  • dave w

    As far as earnings go, not sure where they get these figures. As an Uber X driver who does drive around 40 hours per week, the best I have done in a week is just over a grand…..now maybe those numbers are for the bigger uber vehicles…I don’t know…..

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