Uber chief operating officer (COO) Barney Harford, who is on a four-day visit to India, was in for a surprise when a group of driver-partners started agitating during a press conference in Hyderabad, where Harford announced Uber’s collaboration with the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMRL)
Uber has entered into a partnership with HMRL to provide last-mile connectivity by setting up kiosks at 24 stations across Hyderabad. The driver-partners gatecrashed into the press conference and demanded justice seeking better incentives. Incidentally, Uber has its centre of excellence and an engineering facility in Hyderabad.
“At Uber, we believe the ride-sharing services will complement public transportation systems making travel seamless,” Harford said at the event. “Our goal around the world is to integrate ride-sharing with transit to ensure seamless commutes. By making it easy to get to and from Metro stations, we are reducing the need for private car ownership and making infrastructure accessible to the citizens of Hyderabad,” he said. Meanwhile, the driver-partners started shouting slogans and claimed that the soaring fuel prices have hit their earnings and demanded higher incentives. They said despite repeated attempts, they could not meet any Uber officials in Hyderabad as there were bouncers in the local office who refused to allow them to meet the management.
Incidentally, the driver-partners had gone on strike in Mumbai recently demanding higher incentives and increased commissions to be paid to the company. Siddharth, a Uber driver partner and local president of its association, Hyderabad said Rs 250-500 was charged as penalty if the driver-partners go offline. However, Uber in a statement said driving with Uber was an entrepreneurial activity where drivers have complete flexibility and earn as per the numbers of hours they drive. “Given that people drive different hours and at different times, it is hard to talk about average driver earnings,” the firm said.
It added that it has over 300,000 active drivers in the country. “That said, we are focused on ensuring that offering trips through the Uber app remains an attractive, entrepreneurial opportunity. Driver earnings across India have largely remained sustainable and consistent over the last several months. There have been no significant changes or adverse impacts to the same. While earnings is not a one size, fits all and varies by the time and trips individual driver partners take on Uber, over 80% of drivers who are online for eight hours a day continue to make between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,500 net after deducting Uber’s 20% service fee,” the company said.
“Because Uber is a two-sided market, we need to balance the needs of riders and drivers. Uber rolls outs incentives and promotions to introduce the service in new cities. As more riders use the app, drivers are busier and can earn more. This in turn attracts more drivers, which helps guarantee faster pick-ups for riders, and allows us to adjust incentives over time,” the Uber statement said.