Feb. 1, 2016 By Michael Florio
Hundreds of Uber drivers gathered today in front of the company’s office in Long Island City to protest a recent cut in fares.
Uber, the popular car service app, slashed fares by 15 percent on Friday to combat a post-holiday slow season. However, drivers charge that this cut is taking money out of their pockets.
Close to 500 people showed up to rally outside of the Uber offices this afternoon, with the large majority being Uber drivers, according to Farrukh Khamdamov, an Uber driver who helped organize today’s protest.
“We are happy that we showed our voice,” he said. “We think there were a lot less drivers out on the road, but we want to reach all the drivers in New York.”
Khamdamov said the plan is to strike for three days, through Wednesday. He said drivers are open to staying on strike even longer, if necessary.
“We all have to discuss and come up with the best plan,” he said. “We have a lot of ideas going forward.”
The drivers held this protest stating that the cut in fares will cut their income, while Uber continues to take a commission from drivers, which Khamdamov said can reach 25 percent.
Uber, meanwhile, states that the fare cut will lead to more people using the app, which will lead to an increase in drivers’ incomes.
The company compared numbers from this weekend to the weekend of Jan. 16 and 17 and found that drivers had a 20 percent increase of earnings per hour.
“In New York things tend to be quieter after the holidays. So we lowered prices to get more people using Uber, which is good for drivers because it means less time waiting around for trips,” a company spokesperson said.
“As we have always said, price cuts need to work for drivers. If for any reason they are not, we will roll them back as we have done in other cities before,” the spokesperson continued.
However, Khamdamov stated that on Saturday he accepted any ride that he could, to put this fare cut to the test.
“I made less than what I used to make on a normal Saturday night,” he said. “This fare cut puts a lot of stress on drivers.”
“[Drivers] will have to work longer shifts to make up for this fare cut,” he argued. “They will work more hours to take home the same amount of money.”
He also pushed back against Uber’s calculations, stating that ridership is low in the initial weeks after the holidays.
“It always picks up the end of January and February,” he said.
According to Uber, trips in Queens increased by 22 percent this weekend compared to mid-January, while trips in all the outer-boroughs increased by 20 percent.