Which will it be? Cut-throat competition between Uber and Lyft? Or between drivers?

Gig economy (neoliberal wet dream)

‘Rideshare’ driving

“For a decade, Uber and Lyft have been trying to have it both ways,” Rachel Dempsey of Towards Justice told Reuters. “They’re trying to avoid the responsibilities of an employer, while also maintaining a level of control over the transaction that is inconsistent with the idea that these drivers are independent contractors.”[1]

The drivers claim that they get lower pay while passengers pay higher prices as a result.[2] We can certainly argue whether the amount the companies take is fair[3]—it likely isn’t. But it’s hard to argue that there wouldn’t be a cut.

And I have to tell you flatly that if I were free to set my own rates, they would be much, much higher than Uber or Lyft are charging passengers now. Because yes, I think I’m a human being, and yes, I think I deserve a decent living that accounts for the considerable risks of operation I face daily.

Of course, this would run straight into cut-throat competition among drivers as we undercut each other. But that is precisely what Uber and Lyft have been doing to each other, in their emphasis on gaining market share, even at the expense of profitability, and a significant reason drivers get paid so poorly now.

So which will it be? Cut-throat competition between Uber and Lyft? Or between drivers? Drivers will get screwed either way.

Mike Scarcella, “Uber, Lyft drivers claim price-fixing in lawsuit against companies,” Reuters, June 21, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/uber-lyft-drivers-claim-price-fixing-lawsuit-against-companies-2022-06-21/

Bezzle

Lyft is going after the last bit of business the taxicab companies have, by making it possible for passengers to pay for rides in cash, albeit less conveniently than with cabs, through selected retail outlets. Such passengers are principally unbanked (overwhelmingly poor) people who will have to scan identification when they submit their cash.[4] This will, however, exacerbate the problem drivers face, really, of still having unidentified passengers get in their cars when other people order rides for them (very often, a more financially stable woman will order a ride for her less financially stable male partner, or a man may order a ride for a woman home following their, ahem, encounter).

This was precisely what happened in the case of an Uber driver murdered, apparently over money, by a male passenger, whose lady friend had ordered the ride for him, in Monroeville.[5] It is a significant part of the safety problem Uber gaslights its drivers about.[6] There will remain absolutely no way of ensuring that an identified person is the one actually receiving the ride.

In this latest twist, Lyft will just require that identification be presented.[7] It will likely have no way of ensuring that the (possibly stolen) identification matches the person supplying the (also possibly stolen) cash. And Uber will presumably follow suit.

Jon Fingas, “You can pay for your Lyft ride with cash now,” Engadget, June 22, 2022, https://www.engadget.com/lyft-pay-with-cash-153041711.html


Work

Katherine Bindley and Angela Yang, “More Companies Start to Rescind Job Offers,” Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-companies-start-to-rescind-job-offers-11655865283


  1. [1]Mike Scarcella, “Uber, Lyft drivers claim price-fixing in lawsuit against companies,” Reuters, June 21, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/uber-lyft-drivers-claim-price-fixing-lawsuit-against-companies-2022-06-21/
  2. [2]Mike Scarcella, “Uber, Lyft drivers claim price-fixing in lawsuit against companies,” Reuters, June 21, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/uber-lyft-drivers-claim-price-fixing-lawsuit-against-companies-2022-06-21/
  3. [3]Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon, “Uber And Lyft Take A Lot More From Drivers Than They Say,” Jalopnik, August 26, 2019, https://jalopnik.com/uber-and-lyft-take-a-lot-more-from-drivers-than-they-sa-1837450373
  4. [4]Jon Fingas, “You can pay for your Lyft ride with cash now,” Engadget, June 22, 2022, https://www.engadget.com/lyft-pay-with-cash-153041711.html
  5. [5]Megan Tomasic, “Police charge Penn Hills man in death of Uber driver in Monroeville,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/penn-hills/police-charge-penn-hills-man-in-the-death-of-an-uber-driver-in-monroeville/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Gaslighting Uber drivers on safety,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/04/28/gaslighting-uber-drivers-on-safety/
  7. [7]Jon Fingas, “You can pay for your Lyft ride with cash now,” Engadget, June 22, 2022, https://www.engadget.com/lyft-pay-with-cash-153041711.html

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