How to get an Uber car in the U.S.
A few weeks ago, I signed up for an Uber and took a taxi to my home in Orange County, Calif.
The ride was quick and cheap, about $20 an hour.
I didn’t know Uber was operating in the country until I saw the news about its latest surge in the cost of car rentals.
But even then, it was hard to say that Uber was the new normal.
Since Uber started operating in April, the company has added about 500,000 new drivers.
Uber is not alone in having trouble finding drivers, though.
The average cost of an Uber ride in the United States has jumped by more than 60 percent since May 2016, according to data from Zipcar, a San Francisco-based car-hailing service.
Many car rental companies are seeing the same problem.
The cost of driving an Uber has also surged.
The typical cost of a taxi ride in March 2017 was about $28, compared with $38 last month, according a report from the National Association of Home Builders.
But that price has more than tripled since then, to $64 per ride.
“It’s not a surprise that the cost for renting an Uber is skyrocketing,” said Mark Reiss, president of Zipcar.
The surge in demand is driving the prices up, too.
In some parts of the country, Uber and Lyft are offering cheaper rates, said Daniel Meehan, director of consumer insights for Zipcar and a co-founder of Ziprides.
But in other areas, those rates are less than what you would pay at a conventional car rental agency.
In Chicago, for instance, Zipcar rates for a cab are about $7 per ride, compared to about $11 at Zipcar or a comparable agency.
“Uber is not really a typical cab company,” Meehans said.
“They have their own pricing model.”
A ride at a traditional car rental company may include an upfront payment of $100, plus a $25 flat rate fee.
The fee also includes a $15 surcharge, but it’s not clear how much of that is charged to drivers.
At a taxi company, drivers typically get a $5 flat rate for each trip, and each ride can be made up to 30 minutes.
Zipcar says that it does charge fees for Uber drivers, but those fees are less common than other fees drivers may pay.
The Uber surge may have been partly fueled by the fact that many Uber drivers in Chicago don’t have any experience driving taxis, according the Zipcar report.
They have only been in the industry about six months, Mee-han said.
That means drivers may have taken to Uber without a real experience with the system.
Uber and other ride-hail companies have long been trying to get drivers more experienced with the industry.
But some experts say the new surge in costs is a symptom of a broader problem in the market.
There are still plenty of drivers out there with little or no experience, and they may not be as comfortable using Uber or other ride sharing services, said Meehl.
Drivers also are often reluctant to drive a car that’s only available in limited locations, like airports or shopping malls.
“You’re still in the realm of the car rental industry,” said Brian Hennig, an economist at the University of Southern California.
The fact that there are fewer and fewer taxi drivers, even though they make up more than 80 percent of the overall market, could make it hard for Uber and similar services to scale up.
Uber’s surge has made some drivers more willing to accept the Uber fare than they might have otherwise, but many drivers are still wary.
“This is the kind of thing that drives people away from the taxi industry,” Meeshans added.
Uber has said that it plans to increase its base of drivers.
“We’re going to invest more resources in recruiting and training more drivers to make the business easier and faster,” a company spokesman said.
In the meantime, some ride-sharing companies are finding other ways to make it easier for drivers to get into the business.
Uber says it’s partnering with a handful of local car-rental companies, including UberX and Car2Go, to offer a cheaper option for drivers who want to rent a car.
Lyft, which also operates in cities including Chicago, Boston, and New York, is also offering a cheaper ride option for Lyft drivers, Lyft CEO Logan Green said in a statement.
But there’s still a long way to go before the cost differential between taxis and Uber cars becomes much more apparent.
The company has yet to offer drivers the choice of a Lyft or Uber.