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Monday, 10 August 2015 14:46

Jubilant: Uber’s 15,000 driver-partners and million riders


With 15,000 out of the 20,000 ‘new jobs’ Uber wanted to generate in Australia during 2015 already created and over one million registered riders, Uber’s jubilant.

Uber’s Chief Advisor, David Plouffe, said way back in February 2015 that Uber wanted to help create 20,000 new jobs in 2015, and with more than 15,000 of those created in the last six months, Uber says its ‘already well on the way’ to making its vision a reality.

These comments and more are made in Uber’s latest blog post, where it says that ‘more than 15,000 Australian driver-partners’ are now ‘enjoying flexible, well paid opportunities through the uberX platform.’

Now, as an undercover journalist operating as an uberX driver in the US city of Philadelphia discovered, life isn’t all roses as an uberX driver, and Uber itself seems to care more about Uber than some of its ‘driver-partners’, but even so, Uber still seems to be doing good work helping people from postcodes with high rates of unemployment actually doing paid work and earning money.

That these uberX driver-partner-people are supposedly breaking the taxi laws is another matter - better that they’re working than doing nothing or sucking up Centrelink payments.

Indeed, Uber proudly states that ‘across our major metro hubs more than 45% of driver-partners come from postcodes with high rates of unemployment’.

The company gives some good examples, with 52% of ‘partners’ in Brisbane and the Gold Coast doing from the 20 postcodes with the highest rates of unemployment.

In Melbourne, Uber says ‘ridesharing is providing much needed economic opportunities to residents suffering from unemployment, particularly those affected by the declining manufacturing and automotive industries.’

In Perth, Uber says ’27% of uberX driver-partners come from the 20 postcodes with the highest rates of unemployment such as Gosnells, Girrahween and Hamilton Hill.’

In Sydney, Uber says ‘flexible economic opportunities have provided a new source of income for residents of the 30 postcodes with Sydney’s highest rates of unemployment including Lakemba, Bankstown, Parramatta and Auburn.’

Uber then goes on to make the claim that ‘the typical uberX partner receives $30 p/h in providing rides,’ while noting stridently that its ‘ridesharing platform has also changed the way people earn a living, giving Aussies the chance to choose when they work, to set their own schedules, and to make decisions about their hours that fit into other work or family commitments.’

uberX drivers might not be unemployed people either - some are using the platform as ‘a temporary source of income to help achieve short-term financial goals,’ which could be saving for a wedding or a holiday, supporting loved ones through studies or just making extra money.

Uber then lists a series of testimonials from its uberX driver-partners all of whom have very positive things to say about Uber providing opportunity.

The company’s blog post notes that ‘uberX is also extending economic opportunities to underserved communities including veterans, out-of-work seniors and retirees, and the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,’ quoting data showing that:

  • Nearly one in ten uberX driver-partners are military veterans
  • 12% of driver-partners are aged over 55
  • while recent updates to the Uber app have provided new income-earning opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing Australians who currently face unemployment rates 2-4 times higher than the national average.

A series of testimonials from military vets is also published at the blog post, again, very positive.

Uber finishes by noting there ‘are now more than 1,000,000 registered Uber riders in Australia’ and thanking Australians for their continued support which is ‘making a difference.’

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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