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Uber Drivers Are Helping the Company Kill Their Own Jobs

Uber needs only a few more years to start its driverless mobility services. Meanwhile its million-plus self-employed drivers are providing the company with money, data, and future customers before their jobs get permanently ditched.
December 14, 2016, 7am PST | PabloValerio | @pabl0valerio
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What Uber has done, since it started seven years ago, is to lay a sweet trap for people willing to become taxi drivers, but without the means and qualifications to get a license. Initially Uber advertised itself as a “sharing economy” enterprise, allowing any safe driver to augment his/her income by working a few hours a week providing rides.

Back in 2014, in an interview during the Code Conference, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick claimed that the more drivers there are out there, the more reliable the service, the more trips per hour every driver can do. As pick up times get shorter, he argued, drivers will be going from trip to trip without down time. “When trips per hour go up, then pricing can come down, and they can make the same income,” he said. “When pricing comes down you can bring more riders and drivers into the system.” None of this is a selling point for Uber drivers.

A recent report by British MP Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions committee, found that Uber drivers are “feeling forced to work extremely long hours, sometimes more than 70 a week, just to make a basic living,” and that Uber “treats its drivers as Victorian-style ‘sweated labour’.”

Asked about self-driving cars, Kalanick was clear about the future: “Look, this is the way the world is going. If Uber doesn’t go there, it’s not going to exist either way. ”

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Published on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 in Cities of the Future
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