Culture

Uber Is Increasing Its Prices, But Drivers Say It’s Not Enough

RideShare Drivers United has called the tiny increase "an insult and a slap in the face."

No more cheeky Uber rides to and from the pub for you! Or least fewer cheeky Uber rides to and from the pub for you. From June 9 the ridesharing service is upping its minimum fare, while also hitting users with a new 55c booking fee.

In Sydney, the minimum fare is going from $8 to $9, while in Melbourne and Brisbane it’s going from $6 to $7.50. 50c of the 55c booking fee will go directly to Uber to cover “operational costs”, while drivers will send the remaining 5c to the tax office as GST.

“Following our recent roundtable listening discussions with driver-partners, we heard that an important improvement Uber could make to the driving experience would be increasing the minimum fare,” said Uber in a statement. “As a result, we are raising the minimum fares across different Australian cities.”

Given the kind of money they make, drivers asking for an increase in the minimum fare seems entirely fair enough. As it stands though, RideShare Drivers United (RSDU) was less than impressed with Uber’s announcement, calling it a “minuscule” move in the right direction.

“Mininum fare trips make a very small percentage of trips in most cases,” reads a statement on the RSDU website. “This very small minimum fare increase is not really going to make much of a difference to drivers’ bottom line. Most drivers we talked to view this latest Uber increase as an insult and a slap in the face.”

“Even after this small increase, base rates are still at very low unsustainable levels, leaving drivers with well below minimum take home wage.”

The changes come amidst growing speculation as to the long term viability of Uber’s business model. Low costs are a big part of what has made the service so ubiquitous – even with this minor fare hike, an Uber is still way, way cheaper than a traditional taxi, and when was the last time you climbed into the back of one of those?

But the downside of the bargain basement prices is that they put enormous pressure on drivers, especially those who rely on the app as their primary source of income. Meanwhile, the company itself reportedly lost around US$2.8 billion last year.

Point is, unless they get that self-driving car up and running, we could be in for another price hike before too long.