Uber = Paying Hitchhiking, Right?

Please explain Uber, especially if you’ve “contracted” with them. (I am sure you are NOT an employee.) I can’t find the full story on the web. And, Uber’s radio ads making things sound too good. So, basically, YOU sign up to get paid when YOU drive people around in YOUR car? Is that it, in a nutshell?

Yet, on the flip side, ask yourself: would you really stop for a hitchhiker? Now, suddenly, picking up paying hitchhikers is safe (because you’d do anything for a buck)?
Please explain how Uber is a good deal for the driver. Are we just waiting to see the first homicides via Uber?

They get paid. What else do you need to know?

That’s… different.

Usually when folks consider “Uber” and “safety” together they are thinking about the rider’s safety, not the driver’s. I guess it could go either way, but I don’t consider an Uber driver’s position any different from a taxi driver’s. They’re both picking up random people on the street.*

When you consider the passenger’s safety however, there is a difference between a licensed taxi driver in a cab that has a medallion and an Uber driver. BUT, I don’t necessarily believe that an Uber driver is any more potentially dangerous than a taxi driver. I’m just pointing out that they are ferrying passengers around under a different setup.

*Sort of. I suppose the Uber driver is picking up people that have an Uber account whereas a cabbie picks up whoever flags them down. But I don’t consider having an Uber account any sort of useful safety vetting for the driver’s sake. It’s basically still a random person getting into your car.

If a rider robbed the driver or otherwise harmed him it would be very easy to find the rider. Uber has his name, address and credit card information. Also, I believe uber drivers rank passengers, so that a very portly ranked rider won’t get picked up.

With Uber, there is a paper trail tying together the driver and the passenger. I’m sure a dedicated criminal could get around it, but why bother when they can just pick up a hitchhiker without a trace? Added to that is that hitchhikers are often drifters who’s disappearance likely won’t be noticed for a while and won’t be investigated too hard, while if you knock off a yuppie you are probably going to be subject to a nation-wide manhunt.

Hitchhiking also typically occurs during long journeys at least partially through rural areas. Uber typically works for shorter hops in well-populated urban areas. If you try to pull in to an isolated field while I’m hitchhiking, I’m probably going to take a second to catch on, and once I understand things are getting hinky, I don’t have any way to run and nobody is around to help. But if my Uber starts going off course en route home, I’ll notice immediately and have a few options.

Anyways, hitchhiking long distances is pretty dangerous. But doing it in a structured way is much less so. DC has an institutionalized hitchhiking system (slug lines) that thousands use to get to work every day.

Sorry, lost track of the driver focus. For the driver, it’s basically the same thing. Hitchhikers and Uber passenger currently are different populations, in different places, achieving different ends.

Makes sense; you could damage your suspension with all of that weight. :smiley:

This is interesting. Do you have a cite for that? I’d understood part of the appeal of Uber was that they would pick up the people that might get bypassed on the street by taxi drivers.

I don’t know much about Uber, but as far as I can tell they are not much different from taxis and limos in the service they provide, but they do it better by dispatching the nearest available driver and give you a phone app to track them on the way to pick you up.

Uber drivers rank passengers Uber Drivers Rate Passengers

There have been some well known uber crimes, mostly sexual assaults by drivers on women customers, but because both driver and customer are linked by the app, it is very easy to catch the driver.

Unlike taxi drivers, uber drivers aren’t picking up anonymous people on the street. The driver knows your name when he pulls up.

that’s what they try to say they are, “ride sharing.” If even a slim fraction of their actual fares are “ride shares” I’ll eat my hat.

Uber has all your info, because that’s how you are charged for your ride. It’s explained on their website. Here’s how it works:

[li]You sign up for an account[/li][li]Fill out your name and information, and post a picture[/li][li]Link your Facebook account and whatever else to prove your identity[/li][li]Put in your credit card number[/li][li]When you’re leaving a bar Saturday night, you open up the Uber app and request a cab[/li][li]The Uber drivers nearby see your request, one of them accepts the request[/li][li]You get a notice about what your driver’s name is, and what type of car they have, their license plate number, and that they are X minutes away[/li][li]You can watch your phone and see the driver get closer[/li][li]After around X minutes, your driver arrives, and you get in[/li][li]As you go to your destination, you can watch on your phone where you are, and see if you’re going a good route or going somewhere off course[/li][li]Once you arrive, Uber deducts the prices of the ride from your credit card[/li][li]You and the driver can give each other ratings[/li][/ul]

Since drivers and passengers can rate each other, that’s supposed to help with safety. Drivers with ratings under a certain number can’t drive any more I believe.

And you can’t just sign up with any name and credit card; if I’m remembering correctly, you have to link it to at least one or two social media accounts, or something like that to prove your identity. Obviously that’s still not fool-proof, but it does help.

Interesting stuff. If you call for a cab or a limo they know your name, and limos will get your credit car info also. But unless they accept SDMB as a social media account they won’t be picking me up I guess.

It’s been a few months since I’ve signed up for Uber, so I don’t remember exactly what I had to do when I signed up, and there are maybe other ways to get a recognized account, but I’m pretty sure there was at least something for them to double check that you’re not using a fake name.

I use Uber… matter of fact, I’ll prolly use it today to get home from work as the wife has the car. I signed up with email, my home address and my credit card. My son uses it even more than I do and swears by it. It’s an alternative taxi service. Never thought of it as hitchhiking.

They don’t carry cash on them, well I spose aside from maybe personal cash, as it’s all through e-transactions. I have their name, license plate number, car make and model, etc. They have my name, home address, email address and credit card number so it seems more secure than hailing a taxi.

Yeah, but taxis also pick up random people hailing them on the street, that’s got to be much more dangerous than a pickup where the customer’s identity is verified beforehand.

Think of it as the eBay model: buyers and sellers rate each other, and everyone else can see the ratings. If the ratings don’t give you a warm fuzzy, you don’t have to do business with them.

Obviously, this isn’t a ride sharing or hitchhiking situation, even leaving the money aspect out of it. In those situations the driver has chosen a destination and the passenger is just riding along. In Uber, the passenger is choosing the destination.

Uber is an unlicensed taxi service. But they’re denying this for what I assume are regulatory reasons.

I don’t know how it is in other cities, but licensed taxis in Chicago have some protection of the drivers mandated by ordinance. Previously, all leased taxis had to have the (bulky, leg-room robbing) bulletproof floor-to-ceiling shield invariably manufactured in or near New York City. :dubious: The Chicago ordinance now allows taxi owners to choose between providing their drivers the shield or a passenger-facing video camera (IME most cabs have the camera, not the shield). Do Uber cars have that?

It’s all about the App.

The App knows who you are, who the driver is, exactly where you were picked, your route, and exactly where you were dropped off. And it handles the money.

This all serves to mitigate the danger and anonymity of the taxi model.

Uber drivers don’t get paid in cash by riders, do they? I’m not sure what the incentive to rob them is. There are other safety concerns for sure, but the lack of cash probably reduces the risk considerably.