2016 Survey Results: How Satisfied Are Uber Drivers Really?

Every year I send out a survey to all of my drivers here on RSG.  Honestly, I’m not a big fan of filling out surveys myself, but it is a great way to get feedback from my readers and confirm trends that I’ve been seeing in the on-demand economy.

So to everyone who filled out a 2016 survey, thank you!  We sent the survey out on 12/30/15 to 10,234 e-mail subscribers and got 453 responses, which is awesome, and I’ll be sending out some RSG swag to 10 lucky winners.  Scroll down to the bottom to see if you were randomly selected. I’ll also be contacting you by e-mail.

This year’s survey had some really interesting results and I’m also getting better at asking interesting questions.  So if you’re a company or start-up interested in going over the results with me or one of my staff members, please e-mail me.

For everyone else, hope you enjoy!

2016 Survey Results: Getting Started With Driving

How long have you been a driver for?

According to Uber’s own numbers, half of all drivers quit after just one year.  I was surprised to see that only 17.4% of my audience has only been driving for 0-3 months, which tells me that although there are a lot of new drivers out there, they aren’t finding the online resources like my site, rideshare Facebook groups and forums.

This also speaks to the challenges of organizing drivers since there are so many new drivers who really only talk to Uber and don’t know how to get in contact with their fellow workers.

A little quick math: If Uber currently has 400,000 drivers and half are quitting after one year, that means they need to replace about 17,000 drivers each month (200,000 drivers/12 months).  And if they’re growing at a monthly rate of 10.6% (they announced 162,000 drivers on 1/22/15 and 400,000 drivers on 11/3/15 – active drivers are defined in both cases by having taken at least four trips in a single month), that means they need to hire 42,000 new drivers each month.

So in order to replace the drivers that are quitting AND sustain growth, Uber needs to hire about about 59,000 drivers in total every single month.  Wow!

Where did you first hear about driving:delivering?

If you’re wondering where Uber finds all of those new drivers, this chart gives a good glimpse into that.  I’ve talked before about Uber’s main marketing channels and although I’ve always known they pumped a lot of money into their referral program, I was surprised to see that so many people ‘heard from a friend’ about driving for Uber.

Not all of these word of mouth referrals are paid referrals, but it’s impressive to see just how important the network effect is when recruiting on the supply side.  Basically by having such a large passenger base, this also helps recruiting efforts.  This is also why a lot of the smaller to mid tier ‘Uber for X’ companies have such a hard time recruiting new drivers (and they don’t have as much $$ obviously).

If you’re curious about some of the ‘other’ responses you can view those here.  The only major category I missed was Facebook ads, which is basically the same type of paid marketing as Google Ads.

Who’s Driving For Uber And Why?

Which rideshare:delivery company do you PRIMARILY drive for?Which on-demand service do you PREFER to drive for? I’ve commented many times before that most drivers prefer driving for Lyft, but they get more rides and make more money with Uber.  I think these two charts prove that pretty clearly.  Even though an overwhelming majority of drivers are primarily working for Uber and thus making more money with Uber, an equal number of them prefer Lyft to Uber.

Lyft is often mentioned in the same breath as Uber, but outside of a few select cities like SF and Austin (where Lyft claims 40% and 45% market share respectively), they don’t offer much in the way of passenger demand.  Drivers in small to mid tier Lyft markets often wait 30 minutes+ for rides and ETAs can be as high as 20-30 minutes.

But Lyft has done a great job cultivating a special relationship with drivers.  I’m not saying they’re perfect (ahem $1,000 driver bonus snafu), but when their president e-mails drivers after fare cuts to explain why Lyft had to cut fares, that says something.

Lyft has always been on the forefront of driver friendly features, but there just hasn’t been enough demand to make it a viable main option for drivers.  Imagine how many more drivers would prefer Lyft over Uber if they actually made the same amount of money as they did driving for Uber!

Who’s Doing Most Of The Work?

How many hours per week do you work on average?

Uber has obviously been in the news a lot about its controversial tactic of treating drivers as independent contractors instead of employees.  In response to the current lawsuit they’re facing in California, even Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick has stated that Uber is best suited as a way “to fill in the gaps”, implying that employee status would not make sense for a bulk of their drivers.

Their recently released survey confirms that 50% of drivers are driving 10 hours a week or less on average.  Uber is clearly presenting driving as a secondary gig and some (Harris & Kreuger) have even called for a third class of worker since your average Uber driver doesn’t fit into the traditional employee/independent contractor boxes.  But the problem with these assessments is that they don’t take into account who’s actually doing a majority of the work.

Based off the numbers collected in our survey, we calculated that 50% of drivers are working 20 hours a week or less, but they only account for a total of 24% of the actual hours worked out on the road.  This is similar to the phenomenon we see with Airbnb ‘super hosts’ that bring in a majority of income for Airbnb with hotel style listings as opposed to private rooms or individual listings.

If you take the mid-point of hours worked (i.e. 5 hours for 0-10) for drivers in our survey and multiply it by the number of drivers you get a rough approximation of each group’s contribution to the total hours worked.

Hours Per Week # Of Drivers % Of Total
Drivers
% Of All
Hours Worked
0-10 85 19% 4%
11-20 139 31% 20%
21-30 107 24% 26%
31-40 57 13% 19%
40+ 65 14% 31%

You can see pretty clearly that a majority of the work is not being done by the 0-10 or even 10-20 hours per week crowd.

This poses several questions:

  • Which group of drivers (part-timers who make up a larger % of the workforce but do less of the work OR full-timers who make up a smaller % of the workforce but do most of the work) should be given more weight when it comes to policy discussion?
  • Should a third class of worker be created for a group of workers (0-20 hours per week) that only make up 24% of all hours worked on the platform?
  • If 30+hrs/week is considered full-time, that means half of Uber’s drivers could actually be more closely associated with employee designation than the independent contractor designation based off hours worked.

Another analysis performed on Uber’s data from January of 2015 came to a similar conclusion.

Why Do Drivers Drive?

What's the most important thing to you as an on demand worker?

Uber touts the flexibility of driving for Uber all the time and it’s actually one of the points that I’ve always agreed with them on.  I don’t think most people realize just how flexible being a driver is.  I can literally turn the app on right now and get a request within 10 minutes and be making money.

Companies like Activehours (affiliate link) even allow you to cash out your Uber earnings the same day.  So you could go out and drive a full day whenever you want and have the money in your bank account by that night.  That’s pretty damn flexible!

Satisfaction With Driving

Overall, I am satisfied with my experience driving for UBER.

When Uber announced in December that their drivers were happier than ever, I was pretty skeptical.  It didn’t pass the smell test for two reasons.

  1. Drivers are now making less than ever because of fare cuts, so even if Uber replaced their entire workforce, how could drivers who now make less money be happier?
  2. Uber has actually gotten less flexible over the past year since they now institute policies like guaranteed hourly earnings which require drivers to work certain times and accept certain percentages of fares.  If drivers care so much about flexibility, wouldn’t less flexibility mean less happiness?

Uber’s survey actually found that 81% of polled drivers said they were satisfied with the overall experience of driving for Uber — up from 78% the previous year.  Uber polled an unknown number of drivers (and received 833 responses) from 24 of Uber’s largest markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City.

My survey was sent to 10,234 drivers and of the 453 driver responses, only 48.4% of drivers somewhat agreed or strongly agreed (my top markets also included Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City).  So I think my skepticism of Uber’s survey was valid.  I’d be curious to know exactly how Uber picked it’s sample size for this survey and what questions they asked (both of which were withheld from me at least).

Thanks to everyone who participated, here are the winners:

  • bondgraphic
  • mfreedman1
  • hbinhb
  • PSGott
  • Stanfieldswitzer
  • Mickeymanp
  • TimothyGoff
  • JimeshPatel9826
  • Rpz828
  • Jravetti6

Drivers, what do you think about the 2016 survey results and what stood out the most to you as a driver?

Get Paid Today With DailyPay!

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-Harry @ RSG

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I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.
  • CMMont

    It’s not a question on this survey, but I would like to see the issue of piggyback ride requests brought up. I have a few concerns with this new partner app feature – maybe I’m the only one?

    • What are the concerns? It shouldn’t affect your rating if you don’t accept them..

  • Karina Aleksandrova

    Hmm. I am a subscriber, but somehow I missed the survey. I guess I was busy last week or whenever it was sent out.

    • We sent it out at the end of December so it’s possible you missed it if you subscribed after. Otherwise, make sure you check your spam folder for our e-mails 🙂

  • dana daddee

    been at it for three weeks, seems rather dehumanizing to me, expecially with Uber telling the riders “you don’t even need to tip!” right on their website… wtf do they do that for???

  • metalbender

    Uberpool is being abused by the riders. Rides from the north and northwest Chicago burbs require limited access, freeway/tollway routes. With no easy and fast way to pickup another pool rider on the same route. The minute they get in the car they start scheduling meetings based on drive time or they are running late to the airport. NO chance to pick up a pool rider.

    • John Diatalevi

      Same thing happens in Los Angeles. They figured out nobody will ever go in the same direction as they are, so they get cheaper rates using pool.

  • Michael Fischer

    I was expecting to see more people in the disagree or neither agree/disagree category for driver satisfaction..(yes I usually think everyone hates everything :).. but it dawned on me that your two main reasons for people being dissatisfied would not have a large impact on the thousands of “New” Drivers they recruit every month.. They would not have experienced the higher rates and really know hourly guaranties as a “norm”

    I would be curious to know in within your sample size the average length people in each satisfaction group have been driving or something similar to that..

    • Yes I agree although you can see that I don’t have a lot of new drivers in my audience since I think it’s a few months before they find me usually 🙂

      I’d like to know that too, I’ll probably dive into that much deeper next year.

  • John Diatalevi

    I’ve noticed that recently when I get a ride request from someone using pool, it tells me i’m one minute away. When I accept the request and activate the navigation, it says I’m 15 minutes away. Because pool is a loser for drivers, I will cancel the request. Then I get a text from uber saying I’m either cancelling or not accepting too many ride requests. When I email uber about it, they say they know about the issue, and that’s where it ends. As drivers, we need to all refuse pool rides and force uber to stop offering them Only uber and the rider benefit from pool rides since 95% of the time there is no second rider. The driver simply gets stuck doing the same job for less money.

    • Yea I’m not a fan of pool as we’ve highlighted here before: therideshareguy.com/what-should-drivers-expect-from-uberpool/

    • Leigh

      Or NO money. I have given many, many, charity rides.

      During the marathon I was on the Westwood side of the course and accepted (to keep my acceptance rate up) then called the rider to inform them it would take a long time for me to get them, thus 5 rides in a row were cancelled. Now some were not pool and i get your excellent point about pool, however this issue of sending a naughty girl hand slap message about canceling without an opportunity to explain why really gets under my skin. This black mark will no doubt be used for ’cause’ to penalize me in some fashion.

    • Obamamerica2015

      EXACTLY. Pool in Philly is HORRIBLE. I never accept Uber Pool requests…too many bad experiences and low fares – and this was the first weekend!

    • Ashley Roachclip

      The best way to maintain 100% acceptance, AND not do pool rides is to accept every pool request, wait about 1 minute, then text the rider that you have a flat tire and will be 45 minutes. They will cancel the ride, and it will not effect your acceptance rating negatively.

      • FRISCO_01

        lol…nice thinking!

    • FRISCO_01

      if they don`t match you with a second or third rider ,then they are supposed to pay you the regular uberx rate…

      • John Diatalevi

        I can tell you that is not happening. 95% of the pool rides have no second rider and we’re only getting paid less

  • Sohrab Bonshahi

    I’ve Stopped Driving for Uber, Lyft is a much better platform to drive for. Why would anyone want to drive for Uber… With rates this low, you are not going to make any money.. I don’t get it why people are still driving for Uber…. you all are crazy

    • There are lots of reasons to still drive for Uber but I do agree with your sentiments re: Lyft and so do other: http://therideshareguy.com/whats-it-like-to-give-up-uber-for-a-week-and-drive-for-lyft/

    • Leigh

      The single solitary reason for me (I’ve been driving exactly one month) is that I have an Ubre lease. Lease payment covered….drive for lyft….

      Last night I finally was able to run both apps and am so glad I’ll be able to less painfully meet the lease payment while earning decent payouts from lyft.

      • Sohrab Bonshahi

        Good for you, yes that’s on more way Uber squeeze there drivers, by giving out expensive leas, I know a driver pays $170 a week… sad very sad…glad you joined Lyft a much better option, you’ll see, the difference and those tips will add up. Good luck my dear friend

        • Tony

          Im one of those victims of Uber lease I pay 200 and change per week,the more I drive the more mileage I use the more I pay, originally ,I was paying 140. But that was calculated for 82 miles per week., so , My advice to everybody is to drive for lyft after the car payments are covered. at least you may get a tip,plus passengers are much friendlier.also Im waiting for Juno to come in the rideshare market. I BELIEVE GREAT NUMBERS OF UBER – LYFT DRIVERS will move to a better opportunity

          • Yea the old leases really were a bad deal but their new leasing program is much much better: therideshareguy.com/how-to-get-the-best-deal-with-the-xchange-leasing-program-on-uber/

    • John Diatalevi

      Because Lyft’s customer base is too small.

  • Christian Perea

    Hey Harry, did RSG conduct this survey before or after the latest round of price cuts?

    • Michael Fischer

      good point… The survey was sent out in December but not sure when they where sent back in… But yea I could see opinions that where on the edge changing after the Jan Crap

    • Good point, I updated the article to reflect the date I sent it out: Dec. 30, 2015. So basically before the price cuts.

      • Christian Perea

        Man, I wonder what it would reflect now…

  • John Diatalevi

    There are two reasons I decline a ride request or cancel one after I’ve accepted it. One is if its a pool request, the other is if its more than 15 minutes away. We’re all in agreement that pool rides are a loser for the driver, and nothing sucks more than driving 6-8 miles to give someone a 2 mile ride, which is why I don’t like driving a long way for a pick up. Will Uber deactivate me for low acceptence rate?

    • As long as you stay above 80% or so, you should be fine. So just save your cancels for those types of situations 🙂

    • Tony

      Im a 4.9 rated Uber driver, I always decline uber pool.for me its a waste of my time and money. For uber is a way to make more money.my advice to all drivers is do not accept uber pool ,and don’t worry about deactivation , they have a big problem recruiting drivers. hopefully JUNO will come to replace UBER – LYFT scammers.

  • Leigh

    (New Driver) I’ve discovered that there are different policies from one driver to the next. For this reason I would think that the dissatisfaction could be among those who aren’t offered hourly guarantees or incentives. Honestly this appears to be a pyramid scheme. All new drivers are (paid less 75% verses 80%) subsidizing sign up bonuses and the minimum hourly guarantees for other drivers. Am I right? Frankly a survey about this differentiation would be insightful.

    Oh and what the !! is up with not being about the contact CS? Investing time to go to the “service center” has been a joke.

    • Good points, as for contacting uber you can email support@uber.com or try one of these methods: therideshareguy.com/top-6-ways-to-contact-uber-when-you-need-help/

    • Obamamerica2015

      Uber CS seems to be a mix of 95% AI canned responses and 5% low level humans who just say they fwd your complaint to SF. Also they say “resolved” when issues are not anywhere near being resolved.

      Have you noticed Uber cannot provide you data about your acceptance rate? Try and ask for proof you did not accept a ride. You’ll have a better chance getting Donald Trump to admit he ever made a mistake 🙂

  • Obamamerica2015

    Great article Harry! I can almost guarantee the satisfaction will continue to drop as the fraud of “Hourly Guarantees” impacts more and more drivers.

    I would disagree about the perception of LYFT having less demand. In the Philly market LYFT has higher demand and Uber Surge doesnt work right anyhow. You can be in a completely red surge, get a ping near you, but when you accept the ride – bingo – NO SURGE!

    I was 100% Uber until they pulled this Hourly Guarantee scam. Now I’m 80/20 LYFT. Plus LYFT has tipping and quick pay. Brilliant!

    The Uber surge may go higher (LYFT goes to 100%), but if the surge doesnt work, that benefit for choosing Uber is irrelevant.

    Finally I would say that Uber’s Support Staff is some of the worst in the industry. Its like bad AI. Good luck if you try to have them resolve an issue. They are only equipped to spit back company talking points.

    • Good to know, I’m all for Lyft gaining market share since more competition is a good thing.

  • Demand in Los Angeles for Lyft seems to be pretty heavy! I know as a rider, I stopped using Uber when Lyft came to town. And as a driver now, I wouldn’t consider driving for Uber given all their issues I’ve heard about.

  • k2lee2

    I’m looking into ride services and find the survey very interesting. For hours worked, I wonder how many of the drivers work for both uber and lyft and percentage of rides on uber vs lyft on average. I’m also wondering what percentage of time during a “shift” is downtime waiting for a customer. In Denver, i’ve heard it’s 50% during normal business hours.

  • Pietro Terzo

    there is any correlation between the fact that those who work more hours are also the ones that work since longer?

    • I didn’t look at that but it wouldn’t surprise me.

      • Pietro Terzo

        if you have the source might i run a check? i’m writing an essay on uber workers and it would be a useful data to demonstrate my thesis

        • Sure I can take a look/provide as long as you don’t mind referencing/linking to me/my blog as the source of the info in the body of your essay/report.

          E-mail me.