Uber, drivers at odds over rate cuts

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Ride-sharing service Uber fought hard for the right to operate in Nevada. A few months later, some of its drivers are ready to turn on the company. They say Uber started the dispute when the company changed its rates.

It will be a jam-packed weekend in Las Vegas. The Alvarez-Khan fight and the Kentucky Derby are expected to bring throngs of sports fans to town, but you may not see many Uber drivers.

Many say they are fed up with the ride-sharing service and are avoiding the Strip altogether, because they say it’s not cost effective.

Uber has cut rates for the second time this year, which means a more affordable ride for customers, but drivers say they are absorbing the cuts.

The new base fare is $1.50. The new mileage rate is $0.90 per mile, and the time charge is $0.15 per minute.

Many drivers spoke with 8 News NOW. Because they say they are worried about having their accounts deactivated for speaking out, they asked to remain anonymous.

“From MGM to the airport, the taxi company make $20 to $22. The Uber driver makes $3.84. It doesn’t make any sense,” one driver said.

Word quickly spread among Uber drivers that 8 News NOW was looking into the fare cuts. Within minutes, drivers lined up for a chance to voice their frustration.

“They’re saying we’re partners, but we’re not partners. We’re slaves for Uber,” one driver said.

The drivers 8 News NOW spoke with are in agreement that the average driver makes $10 per hour, if they are lucky. That is before deducting expenses for gas, maintenance or insurance.

“They contract us as independent contractors, 1099s,” one driver said. “We are not taxed or anything along those lines, so all the expenses are on us. Yet, we’re at the mercy of their control.”

8 News NOW reached out to Uber for comment. A spokesperson directed 8 News NOW to the company’s blog. It says the price cuts are aimed at increasing demand and, therefore, increasing the amount of money drivers can make.

Many drivers disagree.

“For nearly five hours of work, you got $29 before fees were taken out,” one driver said.

“You’re not going to make a living like this,” another added.

Some drivers are leaving Uber and working for rival ride-sharing company Lyft.

“I drive for Lyft mainly, and they’re a better company to drive for,” a driver said. “At least you get a tip option. They take less. They give you ways to earn a lot of commission back, but even then, they’re at the mercy of Uber’s decision. Because as soon Uber lowers their fares, Lyft does it a week later.”

Drivers in California voiced similar concerns in February. Many turned down higher-paying surge rides during the Super Bowl in San Francisco to show Uber they mean business.

If Las Vegas sees similar protests, cab companies and Lyft could reap the benefits.

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