BUSINESS

Uber Part 1: Student workers earn big bucks as Uber drivers

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A great portion of Uber’s business is concentrated at the Square due to the nightlife and various other activities. Photo by Anders Culiner.

Anders Culiner
Oxford Stories
asculine@go.olemiss.edu

Oxford residents are experimenting with Uber as an alternative mode of transportation, and the company is providing many job opportunities for University of Mississippi students.

UM senior and political science major Seth Glass, 23, has been an Uber driver since September of 2016. He believes it’s a better and more convenient alternative to taxis.

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Seth Glass being interviewed at his home. Photo by Anders Culiner.

“It’s easier than calling a cab, because all you need to do is download the Uber app, and from there, you confirm your location,” he said. “Once you do that, the driver will accept your request, and you will never have to wait too long, since the app gives you a choice of the closest drivers available,” Glass said.

Glass said Uber has been beneficial for Oxford, and it has helped him financially. He was surprised about how easy it was for him to register as a driver.

“I didn’t know how easy it was to sign up,” he said. “All I had to do was send a picture of my driver’s license and plate number,” said Glass. “All of a sudden, I was on the road. My first night driving was the night of the Alabama game, and I made $650 dollars in one night. It is truly unbelievable how much money you can make, and quite frankly, it’s beyond me that someone would not do it.”

Driver set their own schedule.

“(It’s) good for students who can’t work a full-time job because it gives them the chance of avoiding any conflicts between their studies and work,” Glass said.

While Glass is elated with the money he has made driving for Uber, he said it has also made him more relatable. The Uber app shows the profile of every driver and their rating.

“I learned how to build my network, be a better driver, and most importantly, a much more sociable person,” said Glass. “If you want to keep your rating up, you have to entertain the people you are driving by all means necessary, as long as it isn’t something dangerous. If they want to play a song, let them play it, even if it’s a song you hate.”

Glass said he’s most impressed with the quality of Uber’s service and believes it to be superior to taxis.

“Some of the cab drivers are kind of rude,” said Glass. “Not only that, but when I lived on campus my freshman year, I would pay $10 for a ride to the Square, and for Uber, one would only have to pay $4. Uber has made the cab companies realize that they have been overcharging people, which is why they have recently lowered their rates.”

While there have been cases of Uber drivers not following the correct protocols, Glass said driving involves ethics.

“Some drivers will take the longest route to your destination since your fare is measured by your time in the car, not distance driven, but there are no rules against that,” said Glass. “While I have been tempted to do that when the rider is extremely rude to me, I still make sure I get them to their destination as quickly as possible because, then again, I want to keep my rating high.”

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Conor Crain in the middle of one of his rides. Photo by Anders Culiner.

UM junior and criminal justice major Conor Crain, 21, has been an Uber driver since the beginning of the year. He is also Glass’ friend. Crain said he sees a bright future for Uber in Oxford and appreciates the opportunities the company has given others.

“As long as I have been driving, more and more fellow students have become drivers,” said Crain. “People who want to start driving see the financial benefits it provides, and the customers realize the extent of its convenience.”

Crain said Uber conducts background checks on its drivers.

“It took me a week before I was officially allowed to drive,” said Crain. “Uber is very aware of their brand, and they want to promote it. At the same time, they want many drivers. Not just anyone can drive for them.”

Crain said driving for Uber has helped him become more responsible.

“I have to be prepared to deal with people I don’t expect in some cases,” said Crain. “Whether it is a customer who is intoxicated, or someone who is behaving erratically, I handle the situation and make sure they get home safely.”

Crain foresees Uber replacing taxi companies.

“The only way I see Uber faltering in the foreseeable future is if another company comes in and compensates for their drivers more,” said Crain. “I think that there could be similar companies that will try to compete, but the only thing I see going   down, is the amount of taxi companies.”

To learn more, read: Uber Part 2: Some students use Uber to avoid parking issues on campus

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