Uber releases driver data for first time, and it’s not pretty for taxi industry 

Uber released a bundle of data about its drivers on Thursday. - RAFIQ MAQBOOL/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Uber released a bundle of data about its drivers on Thursday.
Uber on Thursday released a bundle of data about its stable of drivers.

Since launching in 2012, Uber has attracted over 16,000 drivers to the mobile ride-hailing service in San Francisco alone, with over 11,000 still active. That’s many more times the number of taxicab drivers, and does not include drivers for Uber competitors Lyft and Sidecar.

The study found many of these drivers are part-timers working fewer than 34 hours a week.

“You turn your car on, turn your app on, whenever you want,” David Plouffe, Uber’s senior vice president, said during a Thursday morning conference call with reporters. “More and more people are doing this to suit their needs.”

The new data was revealed as part of a study released Thursday by Uber that was intended to highlight the earning potential of its driver partners, as the company calls those who use its app for income. But it also puts into perspective just what the local taxi industry is up against.

There are currently 1,812 cab vehicles in operation, not including spare vehicles, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates the taxi industry. And while many cab operators partner with ride-hailing app Flywheel – which was created to compete with Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others – it is not used by every taxi company.

The Uber driver study was conducted by Jonathan Hall, head of policy research at Uber Technologies, in conjunction with Alan Krueger, a Princeton University professor of economics and public affairs and former member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet.

The pair used anonymized internal Uber data, along with a survey of more than 600 drivers. Speculation has long swirled around the number of drivers on San Francisco roads, but this is the first time actual data has been released.

The taxi industry said the large number of drivers on the road hurts everyone, including Uber drivers. That is one reason the SFMTA regulates the medallion count.

“There are 15,000 licensed Yellow taxis in New York City,” Dave Sutton, a spokesman for the cab advocacy campaign Who’s Driving You?, told The San Francisco Examiner. “Uber has replicated New York's entire taxi fleet and placed it on San Francisco's streets.”

The study also compared age, ethnicity, gender and education data of Uber drivers versus taxi drivers. Uber drivers are predominantly young and white; taxi drivers skew older and are more Asian, Hispanic and black.

The full study from Uber is available below:

About The Author

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Born and raised in San Francisco, Fitzgerald Rodriguez was a staff writer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and now writes the S.F. Examiner's political column On Guard. He is also a transportation beat reporter covering pedestrians, Muni, BART, bikes, and anything with wheels.
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