The Great Uber Crisis of 2021

So as discussed on another thread, it costs around $100 to go from Manhattan to JFK but in my shitty city (let's call it Boston) you legit cannot get a Lyft or Uber during prime hours. If you need a ride at 1 AM you better be able to make the walk, wave a taxi, or sleep on a couch. So I get it from the driver's perspective but it has really made me appreciate the ability to get picked up whenever I made a request. I don't feel great about the outlook of Uber given their standoff with drivers and find most taxi drivers airport dependent and lazy. Anyone have thoughts on the outlook of ride share in any city that is not NYC?

Edit: Adding this LinkedIn thread: https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/where-have-al…

"Every person in this country has driven for them or knows someone who has. You can only screw over so many people before word travels! It's a business model that only works for the driver on a short-term basis. I've never seen a business that has such a huge turnover ratio. They have exhausted theirs driver supply. This day was a long time coming."

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Comments (82)

May 19, 2021 - 5:03pm

I seem to recall that different states have handled Uber in different ways...

but beyond that is the underlying demand...

If there is not a large demand how many people are going to enter the supply side?

May 19, 2021 - 5:17pm

Valid and I've spoken to a few drivers who discussed the inconsistency of ride requests. However, I would assume that demand is coming back now that the city is opening up a bit but I keep reading discouraging articles about drivers not coming back. 

May 26, 2021 - 4:31pm

Not to mention that Uber kinda seems like it treats its drivers pretty bad.  I was talking to a driver and he said that Uber took him out of the city and drove him out to some random place to get a ride.  If he rejects the ride he gets penalized. So his only option was to drive 30 mins out of the city.  

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May 19, 2021 - 8:05pm

I've been tellin' y'all: the robotaxi is coming. Maybe not today; maybe not tomorrow. But it's comin'. And it is gonna change everything.

Array

May 19, 2021 - 9:04pm

yessss - I can't wait - robotaxiiiiiiii

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

May 19, 2021 - 8:08pm

I'm in a mid-sized Midwest city (not Chicago, deeper Rust Belt) and have had friends travel to a few other cities. It's bad all over. At least 10-20 minute waits on normal days at normal times, like Saturday at 1pm or Tuesday at 6pm, and prices are at least 2-3x what they usually are.

I met a long-time uber driver at the bar last weekend and we chatted about it for a while. Basically, the unemployment benefits right now pay more than most drivers make, so most drivers are just sitting out on the sidelines. I also think the Uber / Lyft model of taking a loss by overpaying drivers and cutting prices for passengers is finally catching up to them; its only a matter of time before they have to have a margin +0% on a per-trip basis. 

I really hope the issue resolves soon because I've been car-free for 7 years and a huge reason is because I could count on the reliability of Ubers. Now, not so much.

Most Helpful
May 19, 2021 - 9:55pm

It's an awful combination of surge pricing being outlawed in some states (i.e. government) and too much stimulus replacing work (again, government). Up until now, anyone who said too much welfare reduces the incentive to work was considered evil - but this instance, and the academic studies from top tier economists, are finally proving what most of us could see pretty clearly.

May 19, 2021 - 10:44pm

My father called the educated elite who couldn't understand basic principles "educated beyond common sense." 

Array

May 21, 2021 - 10:24am

TheEmperor

It's an awful combination of surge pricing being outlawed in some states (i.e. government) and too much stimulus replacing work (again, government). Up until now, anyone who said too much welfare reduces the incentive to work was considered evil - but this instance, and the academic studies from top tier economists, are finally proving what most of us could see pretty clearly.

How does this make sense?  In that case former Uber drivers will just wait until demand pricing gets high enough and then go pick people up.  I'm not sure how you accept that the market is efficient and works well but then refuse to bow to the inevitable conclusion - that pay just isn't high enough to incentivize people to go out and work for what's barely a living wage if they don't have to.

May 20, 2021 - 9:33am

I lived in Boston up to late 2019 and went out a lot and literally n e v e r had trouble getting an uber. Idk where you're at but West End, Fidi, Seaport, Theatre, and Southie have not once caused me problems. Ubers to and from Logan via my parent's house in the near suburbs also never an issue. Has it changes over covid?

Dayman?
May 20, 2021 - 10:50am

I recently flew into Logan at 1 AM and there were plenty of taxis (thank god) so I think you can count on a ride from the airport or South Station these days. However, it is bad if you are traveling between neighborhoods during peak restaurant/bar hours. Last week at 6PM on Friday and 3PM on Saturday, I saw wait times over 30 mins.

I moved outside of the city to save money during quarantine and I've had a horrible time getting back there after a night out. I know, I did it to myself but finally moving back to a central location in a month. Just want this to be resolved because Uber is basically a form of public transportation in this city. 

May 20, 2021 - 11:24am

Maybe it got super worse over COVID with all the businesses closed and nobody needing rides. I never really uber'd during the day since I had a car up there, so guess I never experienced that, but 10pm-3am was never an issue for me. Sucks if that becomes a bigger problem up there.

Dayman?
  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 20, 2021 - 5:04pm

Flew to Boston a month or so ago and literally had a message on the Uber app in the afternoon at Logan that said there were no drivers in my area. I had never seen that message before, so seeing it at an international airport was especially surprising. Also had no issues with this in Boston or anywhere else pre-COVID.

May 20, 2021 - 6:25pm

Its gotta be COVID. Maybe it just fucked things up there big time. That absolutely sucks. I had talked to drivers who would come down from NH and western MA to drive on weekend nights, so I guess the motivation ain't there anymore.

Dayman?
May 21, 2021 - 10:28am

trustmeimanengineer

You don't say. Paying people to sit at home has consequences? Absolutely shocking. I hate more government. At least my state revoked the extra unemployment $. People here are slowly coming back to work 

Making sure your citizens don't starve or end up on the streets is a valid function of government.  Maybe what you should hate is the fact that we allow companies to pay their employees next to nothing and let the American taxpayer pick up the burden of feeding and housing them, in order to juice returns for shareholders.

I don't understand how anyone bemoans the lack of Uber drivers (or labor in general in this market) and does not point the finger squarely at companies that won't pay employees more than enough to get over the poverty line.  Telling people they can either go back to working 18 hours days or starve is it's own kind of unethical.

May 21, 2021 - 12:56pm

People like you always point to wages here in the US but seem to turn a blind eye to companies like Walmart which outsource everything abroad and will pay some worker $1/day in unsafe conditions to sew clothes. That is far worse than the wages being paid here. Fix that problem first and then I'll listen.

Array

  • Works at Goldman Sachs
May 25, 2021 - 1:40pm

Ozymandia

trustmeimanengineer

You don't say. Paying people to sit at home has consequences? Absolutely shocking. I hate more government. At least my state revoked the extra unemployment $. People here are slowly coming back to work 

Making sure your citizens don't starve or end up on the streets is a valid function of government.  Maybe what you should hate is the fact that we allow companies to pay their employees next to nothing and let the American taxpayer pick up the burden of feeding and housing them, in order to juice returns for shareholders.

I don't understand how anyone bemoans the lack of Uber drivers (or labor in general in this market) and does not point the finger squarely at companies that won't pay employees more than enough to get over the poverty line.  Telling people they can either go back to working 18 hours days or starve is it's own kind of unethical.

Lmao at liberals what a joke move to Europe if that's what you want and enjoy 0% growth and 60% tax

May 20, 2021 - 12:33pm

Tangentially related, but I feel like AirBnb is starting to get worse than hotels too. 

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers
May 20, 2021 - 3:46pm

In many places, I certainly don't see the economic benefits of AirBNB.

Array

  • VP in IB - Ind
May 27, 2021 - 7:56pm

Aside from the $ aspect, Airbnbs are a total gamble when it comes to cleanliness. I don't care if they use "professional" cleaning services after each visit, there is such a vast difference in quality/upkeep between the average Airbnb and a hotel room.

May 20, 2021 - 10:34pm

The fees that are tacked on now are insane. A $400 stay easily becomes $650 after cleaning fees, Airbnb fees, occupancy fees, etc. 

I really still do like the personality that different places can have, and it still is the most economical option for large groups. 

May 20, 2021 - 6:50pm

uber changed the share drivers get so it's lower now. drivers don't want to get covid and in some cities crime is up so that's a risk. demand has been down. you can make a lot of money on uber eats as more people are ordering delivery and you don't have to deal w people. also, a lot of uber drivers come in from the suburbs to drive in cities and that's not worth it any more. 

May 25, 2021 - 8:52pm

I have been traveling a bit lately and I can confirm that the Uber crisis is real.  I've had to go XL or black just to get a ride since the normal rides aren't even showing up.  From the drivers I have talked to they've said that Covid is scaring drivers off and the stimulus checks are making it easier to just stay at home.

May 26, 2021 - 12:19pm

Let's see what happens to supply/demand once Covid/unemployment benefits boost fully recede. However, we've all gotten very addicted to VC-funded subsidized Uber, Doordash, Airbnb, Spotfiy, etc. for the last 10 years. At some point, these investors are going to demand profitability, which will mean higher prices for consumers and/or lower wages for their drivers/hosts/content providers - and the supply/demand fallout from those effects.

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