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TOO MANY DRIVERS / I have been driving for Uber for two-and-a-half-years and in that time, conditions have got much worse.

There is not enough work because they have taken on too many drivers and they pay us less and charge us more commission.

Many of the drivers that I know are working crazy long days, 70, 80 sometimes 90 hours a week.

But I would say that the available work has dropped by at least 30 per cent in the past months. Mainly because they have taken on too many new drivers.

When I started it was okay, not good or bad. But now, it is not even manageable.

It is not uncommon for drivers to be left with just £150 a week, after all their expenses have been paid and that is just not manageable. I know of some people who live and sleep in the cars, just so they can do more and more hours.

Also, there are a lot of people who come down from outside London. I know of at least one guy who drives all the way down from Peterborough four or five times each week.

There just isn’t enough work. And what work there is, is being spread around less and less. Many of the drivers, after all their expenses have been paid, are often on less than the minimum wage.

It is a complete and utter rip-off. I did a job recently from the centre of London to Heathrow for just £19. And another time, I did a 60 mile job for £16.

Not only are drivers getting paid less but Uber are misleading with the sort of jobs that they are accepting.

Sometimes, when I accept a job over the app, it says it is an UberX job. But when I clear, it has turned into an UberPool job and I receive at least 25 per cent less.

If you take into account the expenses and the cost of fuel etc, UberPool drivers are working more or less for nothing.

UBERPOOL / I think UberPool is the worst kind of exploitation going. For instance, if a second customer doesn’t join the trip, the first passenger still gets the UberPool discount and the driver gets 25 per cent less than he would with UberX.

Even if more customers do get in, they all get 25 per discount and the driver has spent extra time and fuel zigzagging all over the place, picking them up and setting them down.

I read somewhere that sexual assaults have gone up by 30 per cent on the Underground, so what is likely to happen when you throw strangers together in a car, who are perhaps worse the wear for drink?

And if something does happen, what are drivers meant to do? If we intervene, we face potential prosecution from the police and TfL.

And if we don’t, we risk having it on our conscience that we didn’t do anything to stop the assault or worse of a passenger.

I have read in the papers that some people are already calling this service ‘Uber Match’ because it is a great way to meet potential sex partners at the end of an unsuccessful night trying to chat someone up in a pub or a club.

But, what is the advice from TfL if I have a male and female passenger and after she makes it obvious that she is not interested, he gets out soon after she does and follows her home, with a nefarious agenda?

I can’t stop him getting out of the car, because that could lead me to being charged of kidnapping. But if the woman is attacked later, am I to blame in anyway for not trying to do something to stop it?

VEHICLE FINANCE / In the beginning it was good. But then the company started to charge the drivers more, pay them less and get them trapped with vehicle finance, so that they are unable to go anywhere else. Many of the drivers are now well and truly trapped.

At first, Uber sent out loads of emails, promising drivers  that they could earn a lot of money and that they were going to look after them.

But once they got everyone in, the company said they were  going to help the drivers buy their own vehicle.

Uber then invited loan companies into their offices, as well as the drivers and used pressure selling tactics to sign them up on high interest vehicle deals.

So, a lot of drivers signed up to buying a car on credit. But as soon as they did, Uber put the commission rates up and suddenly these drivers were trapped.

And what this has done is completely saturate the owner driver private hire market in London.

There are a lot of companies in London with a large surplus fleet of vehicles and no one wants to take owner drivers on because they have so many cars that they want to rent out to drivers.

Drivers who want to leave Uber and work for someone else, can’t, because they are still paying for their vehicle. And they can’t work for another PHV firm because they have lots of fleet vehicles and don’t want to take on owner drivers.

And they simply can’t earn enough to pay for two cars. The situation is just impossible.

So, many stay with Uber just because it is the lesser of two evils. They are well and truly trapped.

TAX CREDITS / It is outrageous, but British taxpayers are subsidising a multi-national company worth billions of pounds, because some of the lower earning drivers are also (allegedly) claiming tax credits.

Passengers don’t mind because they think they are getting a cheap ride.

But, they are in fact paying for their journeys through their taxes, which are paying out tax credits to Uber drivers whose income is so low. It truly is a crazy, crazy situation.

PHC asked Uber for a comment but had not received a reply at the time of the magazine going to press.

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PHC Magazine

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