There’s been a lot of talk about ride share efficiency, performance, ride share driver pay, and so forth vs taxis.
As the raw data from the ride share side is largely lacking – some data has been published, but never in such detail as to actually understand what is really going on – this debate is very difficult to resolve.
However, luckily there was a study performed by the city of Seattle in 2013 which specifically examined all of the various aspects of the transport system: buses, limos, taxis, and ride shares.
You can read the full report here: http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/taxis/13100301JC Seattle Final Report Master.pdf
Key points of interest:
1) While taxi numbers have increased – the amount of demand has increased greater than the increases in taxi numbers. However, this period has also seen the rise of increases in For Hire vehicles (think SuperShuttle vans) as well as limousine services.
2) Mean utilization systemwide is slightly over 1 ride per hour
3) For peak hours, however, the averages increase tremendously: for example, taxis average 4 to 5 rides per hour on Saturday night from 10 pm to 2 am, and 2.5 to 3 rides per hour from 6 pm to 10 pm.
4) For the same period above, limos average 1.25 to 1.5 rides per hour from 6 pm to 10 pm, 2 rides from 10 pm to 12 am, and between 1 and 1.5 rides per hour from 12 am to 2 am
5) Demographic breakdown of use: taxis are very even across the board. FHVs are skewed towards the very young and the very old. Limos decrease in usage with age, while ride share is heavily, heavily skewed towards very young.
6) Income breakdown of riders of the different services was not surprising: all services are skewed towards the upper income levels. Limos have the largest percentages at the top 2 brackets, but ride share is heavily skewed towards middle income bracket and above ($50,000 to $100,000 per year). Poor people don’t take rideshare.
7) Response time expectations for ride share were mostly under 5 minutes – actual measured response times were clustered between 10 minutes and 15 minutes with no region averaging under 7.92 minute response time
How does the above square vs. my own experiences? When I was driving ride share for test purposes, I only drove during peak hours: i.e. mornings, evenings, and weekend nights.
I averaged 2.12 rides per hour, and since I live in the middle of the peak area, I have no commute time. My business partner averaged 1.95 rides per hour, but he was commuting 1 hour each way (and this isn’t reflected in his rides per hour). Neither of us EVER had more than 3 rides in an hour. The main takeaway is that there are very fundamental differences between the maximum carrying capacity of ride share vs. taxis – as defined by the number of rides per hour.
Other interesting notes: the number of limos in Seattle nearly doubled from 2011 to October 2013: 600 to 1100 (compare with about 1600 taxis). Clearly there is some form of major demographic shift going on here – which Uber likely is a factor (Uber was founded in 2009 and focused on limos originally).
The takeaway? Driver pay is a direct function of number of rides. Average number of rides systemwide varies dramatically over the span of the full week, ranging from under 1 ride per hour to 5 rides per on at peak with the overall average being slightly over 1 ride per hour. Peak hours are well defined: 2 hours each for morning and evening weekday rush hours, plus 7 hours each Friday and Saturday dinner to late night return = 34 hours. For ride share, the peak productivity is much lower but the minimum productivity is somewhat higher – but pay is still determined by number of rides.
If you’re going to make $40,000 per year and drive for 40 hours a week/2000 hours a year, you’d need to make $20 net per ride = $25 per ride paid by rider – assuming only 20% fees. Of course, this assumes you spend zero on gas, maintenance, etc.
Complaints about taxi onboarding performance is largely a PR issue – average time to onboard was not detectably different between any of the ride services. The main differences were in perception.
However, customer service levels and form of payment issues – 2 other common complaints about taxis – were validated by consumer data.
Lastly, Rideshare and limo services are clearly contributing to greater demand for ride services.
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