05 March, 2018
Given inevitable costs of maintenance, fix and depreciation, "effectively, what you're doing as a driver is borrowing against the value of your vehicle", Zoepf said.
There are five different types of expenses driving involves: insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel, and depreciation.
They found that the median driver generates 59 cents per mile of driving but incurs costs of 30 cents per mile.
Research conducted by the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research found that drivers earned a median wage of around $3.37 (£2.44) per hour. "Ride-hailing operators know what they pay each driver but do not know whether drivers earn additional wages from a competitor nor what drivers actually spend to operate their vehicles". Mark Tluszcz, co-founder and CEO of Mangrove Capital Partners, succinctly summed the problem in an interview with TechCrunch: "We're creating the next lost generation of people who simply don't have enough money to live, and those companies are fundamentally enabling it under the premise that they're offering a cheaper service to consumers".
Uber and Lyft have "notoriously high" turnover rates among drivers, NPR reported, with only 4 percent of the drivers staying with Uber for at least a year. That results in a median profit of $3.37 for each hour on the road.
"If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated USA market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed", they add.
Stephen Zoepf, a co-author of the paper, told The Guardian "it's quite possible that drivers don't realize quite how much they are spending".More news: BB&T Suffers Interruption In Service
A Lyft spokesperson said that the company had not yet reviewed the study in detail, but suggested that the researchers had made "questionable assumptions". "And the drivers are essentially subsidizing it by working for very low wages".
Past studies have shown higher profits for Uber drivers.
While Lyft is yet to acknowledge the study, an Uber spokesperson released a statement claiming "its methodology and findings are deeply flawed".
Median gross driver revenues are $0.59 per mile, the study found, but after expenses, median driver profit is only $0.29 per mile.
Independent studies on driver earnings are rare.
Uber counters that the MIT study doesn't accurately portray driver earnings.