In Tampa, Uber continues to face issues with its drivers, despite a temporary truce in the last few weeks.
The local drivers have made their feelings towards the company quite clear over the last few months, with multiple protests and a lawsuit. Uber is one of the fastest growing industries in the country and has become a staple in the college community.
Offering a $22 discount for first time riders, as well as regularly affordable rates makes it the perfect method of travel for most students.
However, the company has had its fair share of trouble over the last year. Between competing with the taxi industry and driver protests, Uber has constantly been in the spotlight.
Security has recently been a major issue with the company.
Last week, one driver had her social security number accidently shared by the company to other drivers. Uber officially apologized and is in touch with the employee in question to make sure her personal information wasn’t compromised.
In 2015, over 50,000 drivers had their personal information leaked to a public website. In October, an update to the driver app leaked the license and social security number of more than 600 drivers.
The multiple lapses in security put many drivers on edge and began building a feeling of unease amongst Uber employees. Then, last month, Uber announced it would be cutting its already extremely low rates in 80 cities.
Rates in some Florida cities went from $0.95 a mile to $0.65 a mile, a 32 percent price cut. The lower fares mean the drivers will be making less per trip. However, Uber is confident the low rates will attract more customers thus balancing, and perhaps even increasing, the drivers’ overall salary.
But the drivers weren’t buying it. After the rate cut announcement, many drivers began protesting and seeking jobs elsewhere.
According to bloomberg.com, Seth Miller, an Uber driver in Florida said the rate decreases would cause him to drive more often for Uber’s competitor, Lyft. However, Uber has offered an hourly wage to guarantee drivers a set amount of money per hour for many of the cities with lowered rates.
There are specifications each driver must fit to qualify for this wage, but Uber hopes it will stabilize committed drivers while the rate changes take effect.
Students will benefit from the lower prices as long as the drivers continue to work for the company. Low rates make travelling the city a breeze for college students living off Ramen noodles and Kraft macaroni and cheese. But what do the lower rates actually mean for the business?
Four drivers in Florida filed a federal lawsuit against the company, claiming by classifying drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, they were violating state and federal labor laws. Drivers in California and Oregon, as well as the city of Orlando, have also sued the company on similar charges.
Many attendees at Gasparilla on Saturday noticed a decrease in available Uber drivers in the area when they attempted to get to and from the event. While some employees still worked through the hectic day, many chose to forgo their services and remain at home.
They warned users the protest of the event would lead to an influx of prices and recommended they plan another way of travelling downtown.
Drivers are fed up with the company and, unfortunately, are beginning to seek employment elsewhere. Though the low prices were ideal for students, the lack of drivers makes the experience stressful for all.
If one does continue to use Uber, be sure to tip the driver well. While riders are saving a bundle by using their service, they’re barely scraping by.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.