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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So a bit of a 'bloggish' overview of my experience as an Ames Uber driver for anyone who cares. :p

I've been an Uber driver for 4 weeks now. My 'real' job is a nurse at the hospital in town, but we live in Jewell and my 15 y/o daughter takes dance classes 5 days/week in Ames for roughly 20 hours/week. It varies. Don't ask me how much this costs! haha.

Until this year, I would always bring her to town and then sit around to wait for her to finish. It doesn't make sense to drive home and come back. The Biolife Plasma Center is right next door to her dance studio, so I also donate plasma 2x/week. (Incidentally, the donation so far pays better and more instantly than Uber! Send me a private message if you're in the Ames area and want more information about that.) I've shifted my donation days to accommodate more Uber driving time to double up on the "extra money" efforts.

Now, during dance class, I turn my Uber app on when I drop her off to class and turn it off about 30 minutes before she's done. It's worked out just fine, and in spite of my worries and the stuff I read here, every college kid I've taken anywhere has been scrupulously polite. Some of them are quiet/keep to themselves while others are gregarous, but none have been rude or done any damage to my car in any way.

Though it should be noted that I'm done by 9:30 p.m. at the latest and so don't drive the 'drunk' shift.

Only about 1 in 8 tip me, but college kids are MORE likely to tip than the adult/business people I've driven.

I've read a lot of 'don't do this' advice on this forum, and some of the "don'ts" I've done anyway, just to see how it worked out for me. I'm sharing those experiences here:

1. Don't "wait" while they run into the store/whatever

Since I sometimes have only 1 rider in an hour, I don't mind waiting. Those fares usually end up being $10+ and are also usually the ones who tip in gratitude for my incovenience. I don't mind waiting.

2. Don't let them load up your car, moving-van style, with stuff.

I actually was the sole transport for some international student who was leaving a temporary appartment for the dorms once a dorm room finally opened up for him. I laid the seats of my hatchback Saturn down and let him and his buddies load it up. Meter running the whole time. Likewise, when I got him to campus, he had no idea what dorm he was actually in, and had to wait to find the person with the keys, etc., meter running. Finally found his dorm assignment and got him there and then waited while it was all unloaded again. Total fare, just under $20. More importantly, this kid had NO ONE else who could possibly have helped him. Maybe it's my 'mom' vibe, but I was thinking how hard/scary it must feel to be in a strange country and be so helpless.

As an aside - I have four kids, two of whom are still at home. My car is very, very clean, but it's because we empty it out of 'kid trash' and vacuum/wipe down the leather seats frequently. It would be very difficult for any adult to put more 'wear and tear' on my vehicle than my kids do.

3. Don't contact the pax in any way when you've arrived at their pin. Wait 5 minutes and leave.

The 'pin' is always dropped at a weird spot, even when the Pax enters the address correctly. For example, if they enter the Super Walmart address, the pin drops smack dab in the center of the STORE, not at the door, and the GPS wants you to drive INTO the building. :p That has gotten 'fixed' somehow in the last week, but still. Likewise, several of the businesses, apartments, campus buildings, the GPS brings you to the 'street side' of the building where the actual customer/resident entrance is probably facing an entirely different direction. I've had many very pleasant rides with people I contacted to clarify where they wanted me to meet them.

4. No food/drink

As long as it's not alcohol and has a lid on it, I don't even bat an eye. Again, four kids, leather seats, 30 mile commute from home to town and done a minimum of once/day and usually twice. If I didn't allow people to eat/drink in my vehicles, my family would starve. :p We're often snarfing sandwiches in a hurry on the way to this or that activity. Not a big issue for me.

5. Don't drive college students

The vast majority of my riders are college students going to/from their dorm or apartments to the various businesses in town. My average fare is $5-7. More of the college kids tip me than the 'adults', though my sampling is very, very small. In 4 weeks, I've gotten roughly 10 tips of various amounts, $5 being the most common.

Other general stuff:

I asked several of my riders today if they've ever requested an Uber in Ames and not been able to get one, out of curiosity as to how well the town was 'staffed' now. Two of them said yes - and in both cases it was getting to work/campus very early in the morning, such as 5:00 a.m., though one of them also said she couldn't get a driver at 6 p.m. on a weeknight evening.

Today, Sunday, I would normally have dropped my kid off and gone home - her class today is 7.5 hours straight - but Uber offered the $12/hour guarantee deal and I signed up for it. This weekend and last weekend, Uber comes out the loser on that deal. From 12-3, I had only 2 very short, minimum-fare riders. For the 5 hour total, I made only $25 and change in fares.

Definitely NOT a 'full time' job wage.

However, they'll make up the difference to be $60 for that 5 hour time slot (or at least they did without a hitch last week) and since 5, I've had three other riders that happened to be slightly longer trips. I'll end up with nearly $80 today.

If I weren't here anyway, it would not be worth it. Since I am here with nothing to do, it's fun.

I think it's definitely a job where you have to be a 'people person' to enjoy. I would be very NOT happy if I needed this income for basic survival. As it is, it will probably just about cover the dance-travel expenses for us.

I'm hoping the ridership will go up as the weather turns cold. These gorgeous fall days haven't helped. :)
 

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BizyMom...Very nice Ames recap! I have a sophomore daughter at ISU living at the Friley dorms. Have been curious as to how things are working out. I live in Ankeny, and work in West Des Moines. I also drive during my kids activities after work. I also sign on where I leave work here is West Des Moines with hopes of picking up a ride taking me back to the east/downtown and Ankeny. On most week days it works out perfect. I get off at 4:30pm, and on most days I get a ping right away with a ride that takes me towards downtown, then I drive on home to Ankeny.

I also drive a 100% electric Nissan Leaf. So there is a limit on how much driving I can do. Some weekend when I am picking up my daughter in Ames, I would like to log on to see how it goes. However, I do have some hesitation about driving during ISU football games. Have you done so??? I would think it is a real headache with traffic, and finding locations to pick people up? Let me know your experience if you have.

Cheers!
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi, IowaShocker! :)

I have not driven Uber during football games, and am very hesitant to do so. I have had to be IN Ames during that time - my daughter's dance studio is frustratingly near the stadium and sometimes she has to be there or gets out near game start/end times. To say the traffic is horrific would be an understatement! I drive from Jewell to South Ames for the studio, so it is usually a 40 minute, easy drive. At game time, that easily goes to 90 minutes or more - and I'm only getting within about a mile of the stadium! Her dance team sells football programs as one of their fundraisers and every family has to 'work' one game. When we work a game, we park at Brookside park and walk.

When we are working a game for the program sales, we have very little cell phone connnection with each other (Hubby and I and my adult son take the younger kids and split up into pairs). Even 4g or sending text messages to one another is very spotty - and this is considering that several of the cell phone carriers bring in portable transmitters and park all around the area. I did read from someone here that during game time, they had a lot of trouble staying connected to the Uber app, which seems to me that it means you'd have a lot of trouble getting paid! The students I've talked to have already figured out that a $5 ride on non-game days became a $50 ride on game-days, so I wonder how many people will continue to try to use it.

And you are right - getting to any 'pick up' location would be a nightmare. The requestor might expect you to come into the acres and acres of parking lots to 'find' them, and to get into the lot you have to pay the $15 as though you're parking, which the pax won't know and won't care. :p Not to mention the numerous accidents as people get impatient. I've never come into town on game day and not spotted at least one rear-end-collision. The kids do get VERY drunk - the parking lots are FULL of kids - and a shocking number of adults! - playing very serious drinking games. When we sell programs, we are supposed to weave through the tail-gating lots for 2 hours before game time and then be at our assigned entry gate an hour before game time, and while we're in the parking lots, it is more rare to see a SOBER person. haha

If I don't HAVE to be there during game time, I avoid Ames entirely.

As a funny aside, I'm a nurse in the same-day surgery department at the hospital here. There is a t-shirt 'out there' that says: Nurse: the first person you see after saying, "Here, hold my beer and watch this."

That is so completely true. Every Monday after a game in town, we have at least one or two people coming in to fix broken bones or other injuries. And that's not remotely counting the huge number of people who have to go to the E.R. on game day.

Not for me. ;)
 

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Thank you for the update. Just based on what you have to say (I trust ya!), I stayed away from Ames on Saturday!!! Love to meet you sometime down the road...seems you are one of the few "sane ones" on this forum! :)
 

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Ames had way to many drivers and a severe lack of passengers. The 1st two home games had plenty of riders with few drivers. It was hard to make guarantees this past weekend due to too many drivers with a lack of demand.
 

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I have only been driving in Ames for about 3 weeks, 5 days to be exact. I must say I'm incredibly impressed with the behaviors of the riders, yes,occasionally you get the rowdy passenger, but remember we were all young at one point. We signed up to give passengers a safe ride and to make sure they are comfortable. The fact they pinged us vs getting in their vehicle to drive, tells me they are good people. And yes, as you probably figured, I'm doing the 6pm-3am timeframe. I have found you can make decent money, those hours only...Thurs-Sat, otherwise, there is low demand. I think Uber is one of the most brilliant ideas to come along in a long time, I just hope they don't get too greedy by lowering rates and raising fees to drivers, that would definitely be the end of a brilliant idea.....or create more similar businesses that have lower fees, I believe things will work themselves out
 

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One more thing....I think as drivers in a small community it would be a plus if we new each other and worked together...not sure how that would work....but I'm throwing the idea out there, I'm Dan..I drive a black 2013 Ford Fusion, I usually have Uber signs on the doors, lost 1 of them tonight though....if you see me lurking around waiting for a fare, feel free to say hi!!
 
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