By Madeline Dallessandro
Special to NFP
With the recent passage of ride-hailing apps in upstate New York, Uber will potentially employ upstate citizens looking to make some extra cash. In the state of New York, Uber is only currently operating in New York City, while other large cities in the state continue to rely on the taxi industry to transport individuals.
There will soon be dramatic changes now that the State Senate voted 53 to 5 approving ride-hailing companies to expand outside New York City bounds (http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2017/02/06/senate-uber-new-york/97562312/).
This includes Buffalo. With a population of 261,000, Buffalo ranks as the second-largest populated city in New York state. Buffalo is home to a bustling nightlife, which ultimately makes it the perfect candidate for Uber.
So now that Uber is making its way upstate, you might consider becoming a driver. With this in mind, do you think you have what it takes?
As an Uber driver, there are many advantages that you may have heard about. Driving when you want and creating your own schedule is one of the most favorable perks a driver has. However, there are other benefits that an individual wishing to drive with Uber may not even be aware of. For instance, drivers can qualify for health insurance through Stride Health, and financial management at H&R Block or Intuit. Drivers also receive a weekly paycheck, which allows them to keep up on any bills needing to be paid (https://www.uber.com).
The company takes out a small percentage of the fare to cover technological, marketing and developmental fees, while the driver receives the rest.
You may be wondering how much money a driver earns. Whether it be part-time, full-time or even seasonal driving, individuals can bring in a decent income. Drivers work when they want and choose the hours they wish to drive. Therefore, the amount earned varies. In New York City, drivers average over $30 per hour (https://www.uber.com/info/how-much-do-drivers-with-uber-make/).
Frequent drivers also can be eligible for Uber's fuel card program, which offers a discount at multiple fueling locations. Uber also gives a discount toward automotive repairs, oil changes, etc. The company is also working on giving a 15-18 percent phone bill discount through AT&T, Sprint and Verizon phone carriers, because pickup locations, dropoffs and payments are all conducted through cellphones (https://www.uber.com).
In addition to the financial gain and rewards Uber offers, personal patience is pushed to the limit as a driver. There will be times when riders keep the driver waiting or forget to tip. Buffalo's nightlife will deliver incoherent, careless and boisterous young adults to the very doors of the driver's vehicle.
Keeping in mind that it is the driver's own car being used, I ask again, do you have what it takes to be an Uber driver? Dealing with a cramped car, blaring music and a probable desire to stop for food at all hours of the night are aspects that drivers will have to face. It is up to the driver to make decisions that can make or break the reception of a five-star rating (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/uber-driver-complaints-etiquette_us_55b7eaf7e4b0074ba5a69e69).
Sounding like music to your ears? Then maybe becoming an Uber driver is the right move for you. In order to join the Uber driving team, an individual must be at least 21 years of age. To sign up, visit https://www.uber.com/drive/, fill out the information, provide a valid driver's license, vehicle registration, proof of insurance and prepare for a driver screening and background test. The Upstate Transportation Association now requires drivers to submit a fingerprint background check, so it will take some time before receiving the green light. Once an individual is cleared, download the app and start driving!
Perhaps you are a reserved individual that avoids talking to people at all costs? If you still want to be a part of the Uber family, UberEats may be a better option for you. This service is directed the same way as Uber, only with minimal contact and verbal conversation between driver and customer instead. UberEats is a food delivery service where drivers pick up various foods craved by a customer and deliver it to their door. This eliminates noisy riders and opportunities to damage or soil the driver's car (http://www.idrivewithuber.com/service/ubereats/).
This delivery service was originally launched in 2014 and competes with Grubhub, Seamless and Foodler. Payment, meal options and drop-off locations are all controlled through the UberEats app.
UberEats "drivers" can deliver food using a car, scooter or bicycle. Vehicle and scooter operators must be 19 years old while bicycle users can be 18. If interested in joining UberEats, visit https://www.uber.com/drive/delivery/.
UberEats drivers are eligible for the same advantages as Uber drivers and can earn approximately the same amount, as well.
"I Drive with Uber" reports the average yearly income of an UberEats driver in New York City is $50,544. The average income per fare is $16.20 (http://www.idrivewithuber.com/ubereats-salary-pay-city/). The vast amount of food options available in Buffalo give the city another reason why Uber will profit by coming upstate.
As all of this information simmers in your head, put yourself behind the wheel as an Uber driver. Think about the rewards, discounts and financial income you would obtain. Think about the stories you could tell and people you would meet.
Is this the right option for you? Or are you better off delivering food? Either way, Buffalo is finally going to experience ride-hailing apps. This is what our city has been waiting for. So do you think you have what it takes to be a part of this societal change?
Images courtesy of Uber