A California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge will decide whether ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft should be required to use criminal background services to ensure the safety of passengers, namely unaccompanied minors. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Uber cuts passenger fares, drivers cry foul

Citing low winter ridership, Uber has slashed prices in 48 cities across the U.S.

While Uber says it’ll mean good things for riders and drivers alike, drivers say the prices go too far.

Here in San Francisco, UberX prices fell 10 percent, and UberXL prices dropped 20 percent.

In a blog post, Uber said the low prices would spur higher ridership, which would translate into more profits for drivers.

“More demand turns into significantly more efficiency for the driver, more trips for every hour, and more earnings for every hour on the road,” the company wrote in its blog.

Drivers locally were less impressed with this argument. At San Francisco Airport last weekend at least 20 Uber drivers blocked the parking lot for Transportation Network Company vehicles for some time, according to drivers. TNC is the official designation for Uber, Lyft and other such services under California law.

A similar protest is planned near Uber headquarters this Friday, according to Uber drivers familiar with the protest.

Christian Perea is a contributor to the popular Uber and Lyft Blog “The Rideshare Guy,” and drives for Uber and Lyft in San Francisco. He told the Examiner the new price cuts mean Uber drivers who drive outside of San Francisco won’t make enough money to pay the cost of maintaining their cars.

In San Francisco, Perea said, prices cuts mean city drivers will earn “about minimum wage.”

Perea said that in addition to the price cuts, Uber also upped their own commission per fare from 20 to 25 percent, in the last year.

“It’s a double kick” to drivers, he said, “a lot of drivers may jump ship to Lyft, or quit altogether.”

The new fare cuts may have a hidden danger for drivers as well: preventing them from driving for both Uber and Lyft.

Uber is providing a “guarantee” for drivers amid the cut, meaning they’ll guarantee fares of between $10 to $26 an hour. But, according to Forbes, drivers only qualify if they accept 90 percent of ride requests, drive one trip per an hour, and are online 50 out of every 60 minutes.

This, Forbes argued, is a way to guarantee its drivers don’t also drive for Lyft. Many drivers use both apps at once to maximize their profits – around San Francisco many cars sport both Uber and Lyft stickers.

Now those drivers may be, in a roundabout way, barred from double-dipping.

Uber driver Eldor Togaymurotov, who drives in San Francisco, told the Examiner “Uber is making drivers so angry, it may make a big problem for Uber’s future.”

“Actually, since Uber cut prices, I’m looking for another job,” he said.

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