Ultimately, the rider paid $65 for the half-hour trip, according to a receipt viewed by Jalopnik. But Dave made only $15 (the fares have been rounded to anonymize the transaction).
Uber kept the rest, meaning the multibillion-dollar corporation kept more than 75 percent of the fare, more than triple the average so-called “take-rate” it claims in financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Had he known in advance how much he would have been paid for the ride relative to what the rider paid, Dave said he never would have accepted the fare.
“This is robbery,” Dave told Jalopnik over email. “This business is out of control.”
Dave is far from alone in his frustrations. Uber and Lyft have slashed driver pay in recent years and now take a larger portion of each fare, far larger than the companies publicly report, based on data collected by Jalopnik. And the new Surge or Prime Time pricing structure widely adopted by both companies undermines a key legal argument both companies make to classify drivers as independent contractors.
Jalopnik asked drivers to send us fare receipts showing a breakdown of how much the rider paid for the trip, how much of that fare Uber or Lyft kept, and what the driver earned.
In total, we received 14,756 fares. These came from two sources: the web form where drivers could submit fares individually, and via email where some drivers sent us all their fares from a given time period.
Of all the fares Jalopnik examined, Uber kept 35 percent of the revenue, while Lyft kept 38 percent. These numbers are roughly in line with a previous study by Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute which concluded Uber’s take rate to be roughly one-third, or 33 percent.
Of the drivers who emailed us breakdowns for all of their fares in a given time period—ranging from a few months to more than a year—Uber kept, on average, 29.6 percent. Lyft pocketed 34.5 percent.
Those take rates are 10.6 percent and 8.5 percent higher than Uber and Lyft’s publicly reported figures, respectively.
In regulatory filings, Uber has reported its so-called “take-rate” is actually going down, from 21.7 percent in 2018 to 19 percent in the second quarter of 2019 (Uber declined to offer U.S.-only figures for a more direct comparison to Jalopnik’s findings).