Uber fare increase not benefitting us: drivers


A woman poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London on September 22, 2017.

JOHANNESBURG - Uber drivers said they are not benefitting from the increased fare as it is "most beneficial" to the company and riders. 

This comes as the company has warned its customers that it&39;ll be charging them more on 31 December amid complaints over higher charges during the festive season.

In a statement, Uber said fare increases during the holiday period were common practice.

It said dynamic pricing happens when demand for rides is high and there are not enough drivers on the road.

Drivers say the increase won&39;t be beneficial to them.

READ: Prepare for sky-high Uber prices on New Year&39;s Eve

"Driving on the Uber platform is a no-win for its partner drivers," a driver calling him or herself Dow Benderf commented on the eNCA website. "Uber, its shareholders and the riders are the ones who truly benefit from the rider app. I am a driver-partner and drivers earn on average R30 per hour and that figure drops more and more each time we experience the monthly petrol price increases.

"The rider had been benefiting all along until last month when Uber increased rider fees by four percent &39;to cover operational costs&39;. We, as drivers, do not benefit from this four percent increase. We are continually having to absorb the petrol price increases whilst riders, up until last month&39;s four percent increase, were enjoying rides on prices determined two years ago.

"Prior to November&39;s hefty petrol price of over 60 cents a litre I was able to make, on R200 petrol,  R1,000. Of the R1,000, Uber takes R250. Because I am in a 50/50 partnership agreement with the owner of the vehicle we split the remaining R750. From my R375 I have to deduct my R200 petrol, leaving me with R175.

"Our earnings can be as little as R20 per hour over eight hours worked. I have not even factored in the data and airtime costs that we, as drivers, incur," said the driver.

READ: Uber, metered taxi violence: special task force set up

The Uber driver said they joined the service "as exploitative as it is" because it gives them a sense of purpose as "there are no jobs".

Another driver, however, was optimistic about the increased fees.

"When there’s a huge event, big event maybe a music concert and also days like the 31st of December where a lot of people are moving around to particular events or destinations, that’s when you know that there will be a surge," said Uber driver, Zweli Ngwenya.

Some Uber riders have raised concerns over the price increase but Ngwenya said passengers should not be shocked.

READ: Uber looks to enhance driver safety

“It’s never a surprise, now it’s even worse because there is an upfront fare with Uber. So it gives you the price already before you request that for a particular trip this is how much you will be paying. So they are aware, that one I am sure, they are aware that there is a surge price.”

Uber drivers also face the ongoing battle with metered taxi drivers which has seen some of their vehicles torched. 

In the latest incident, Uber driver Busisiwe Ndlovu was attacked by a cash-paying customer.

“The name which he gave to the police is different from the name which was on the trip so I don’t know how is Uber verifying because they did they verify the trips, the cash trips.”  

Barely escaping with her life, Ndlovu counts herself lucky to still be able to be with her family.