I’m going to share with you what it was like for me to be a taxi driver for one week in San Francisco, driving for the Flywheel Taxi company. Stick around at the end of the video. I’m going to share with you whether it makes sense for me to now continue being a taxi driver, or am I going to stick with Lyft and Uber.
Hey everybody, this is Jay Cradeur with the Rideshare Guy. About a month ago, Harry asked me, “Would you like to become a taxi driver for a week and then write about the experience?” And I said, “Yeah, that sounds kind of cool,” because I’d always wondered what it was like to be a taxi driver, and how much money do taxi drivers make, and is it harder than being a Lyft driver.
So what I’m going to share in this video are my five key takeaways here, after being a driver for a week.
Taxi drivers deal with more equipment
My first key takeaway is that the taxi, the car, the actual physical car has a lot more moving parts, and there’s a lot more to do. I made a little video when I got into my taxi. It was taxi cab number 592. That’s what the medallion says, 592. Let’s watch that right now.
When rides come in, it’s like a ping, just like with Uber and Lyft, and I can just accept, and the customer can pay through the app just like with Uber and Lyft. The benefit to being a taxi driver is that if someone’s hailing a cab, I can actually go and pick them up.
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As you can see in that video, it was raining, and as you can see in this video, it’s raining. We’ve been getting some good rain here in San Francisco.
It requires more skill and finesse to be a taxi driver
There’s a few things that you got to do as a taxi driver that you don’t do when you’re a Lyft and Uber driver. The first one is you really have to know the city that you’re in because people will just get into your car and they’ll give you a location, like a building, like, “Take me to the Zuckerberg Hospital.” Or, “Take me to the corner of 45th and Noriega,” let’s say. Or, “Take me to Geary and Arguello.” And you can’t really use your GPS with corners, so you got to kind of have a pretty good idea where you’re going. The taxi passengers expect you to know that.
You also got to be a little more observant when you’re trying to get passengers. You’re going to get some through the app, at least with Flywheel, but you’re also looking for passengers that are on the street, raising their arm up in the air, called hailing a cab.
The other thing that there are lot of different ways to collect the money. Some of the rides will come through the app, and those people are already kind of pre-paid. But, we also work with seniors and disabled folks with a program called Paratransit. They have a card you swipe. Sometimes the card doesn’t work so you’ve got a form you got to fill out. As you’ll see in this picture, I had a lot of forms I had to fill out because my swiper wasn’t working for the Paratransit.
Some people will pay you in cash so you got to give them change. And other people will pay you with a credit card, so you got to swipe the credit card, ask about the tip, put the tip in, and then give them a receipt. So there’s a lot, a lot more going on, as a taxi driver.
Taxi passengers tend to be older than rideshare passengers
Takeaway number three is I loved my taxi passengers. And I love my Lyft and Uber passengers, also, especially Lyft, but the taxi passengers are really special. There are a lot more seniors. If you think of Uber and Lyft having passengers that are 30 years and younger, taxi passengers are 30 years and older. One day, in a two-hour period, I had 100-year-old woman, named Pearl, and two 91-year-old people. Man, those people have some stories to tell. They’re fascinating.
The taxi passengers also have strong feelings about the rideshare industry. In short, they don’t like it. They don’t like Uber and Lyft. They don’t like the impact that it’s having on, you know, the streets being more congested with lots more cars. They don’t like the way Uber and Lyft treat their drivers. They don’t like the impact on the taxi drivers that this industry has had. Once they knew I was writing the article, they were all about telling me how they felt. So, it was definitely interesting, really interesting, to have such a different kind of passenger.
I earned less as a Taxi driver than an Uber/Lyft driver
Number four is about the money that you can make. You can make some okay money as a taxi driver, but compared to what I can make as a Lyft driver, it’s good but not as good as being a Lyft driver. I drove for five days. I recorded all of the money that I made. I earned about 65% of what I could’ve made as a Lyft driver.
Now, there’s a couple things that affected my ability to make money. One was the gate. The gate is the amount of money that you have to spend each day in order to have the taxi car. The taxi, in my case, was $95 a day for a 12-hour shift, which would begin at 6:00 and end at 6:00. That’s a pretty good chunk. The first $95 that you make goes towards the gate, and then everything after that is yours.
But the thing that really killed me was the demand. With Lyft and Uber, I can stay pretty busy here in San Francisco, almost nonstop. There aren’t enough people requesting taxis to meet that kind of need. A little disappointed there, but I wanted to know how much money could I make as a taxi driver, and now I actually know.
The sense of community among taxi drivers is stronger
The fifth takeaway is that the comradery I felt, working as a taxi driver, was really stimulating. I really loved it. I loved working with this group of guys called Flywheel Taxi. I felt like they really had my back. I felt like they really appreciated me driving for them.
I don’t feel that way driving for Uber and Lyft. I mean, let’s face it, we are pawns in their little game. Uber just changed the whole pay structure, so one, rides don’t pay as much. Lyft seems to change my bonus every single week. I don’t know what I’m going to be getting. It’s hard to feel like a company’s got your back when they keep changing the game around for you. But, with being a taxi driver, I felt loved. I felt appreciated. That felt really good.
I also liked a speaker where dispatch lets you know things that are going on. I remember they were telling us that the cruise ship was in, and they needed taxis over at Pier 27. I thought that’s great. They told us when there were accidents to avoid and things like that. That was a good feeling.
In summary, I’m going to keep doing Lyft, because I’m not going to bite the hand that feeds me and I get fed pretty well here driving for Lyft almost exclusively now, not so much for Uber. But, you know, in a typical week, I could work 50 hours and make about $2,000. I can’t get too close to that driving a taxi, so that’s the main determinant. I wish it was closer because I really enjoyed the taxi driving. I loved the passengers, the comradery. I loved people just saying, “Take me to this corner,” and I knew where to go. All of that was really, really wonderful.
Thanks for watching. I appreciate you guys checking out this video. If you’d like to see more videos from the Rideshare Guy, by all means, subscribe to this YouTube channel. It’s great. You get lots of great content. My name is Jay Cradeur. You all go out and you have a great day and be safe out there.
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