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Why some Uber drivers are sleeping in their cars

This article from Bloomberg about Uber drivers who live near, but not in, major cities and sleep in their cars really highlights the human element of Uber.

Essentially, they pull a kind of WalMart on the area. Where WalMart offers low cost goods but drives small family-owned shops out of business, Uber offers drivers high wages when they start, and slowly lowers them until it’s insufficient to get by.

Howard’s real home is 40 miles away in Griffith, Indiana. He lives alone in a basement apartment that he began renting when he and his wife split. Before working as an Uber driver, Howard was a nurse’s assistant. In 2014, he started driving for Uber on the weekends to make some extra cash. The surge pricing and new driver promotions convinced him that he’d hit the jackpot. “It was great. I made $40 an hour, no problem. Of course, I left my job to become a full-time driver,” he said. In the fall of 2015, Howard said everything changed when Uber began offering a group-ride service called UberPool and giving drivers a lower cut of their fares. He said he now makes $12.50 an hour. Uber said it’s working on improving the UberPool experience for drivers.

Mark Lewandoske, 51, has been driving for Uber since July. He owns a home in the unincorporated town of Sage, California. It’s 77 miles from San Diego International Airport, where he gets the best fares and does some of his driving. He’ll drive late into the night, usually until the bars close. Then he’ll find somewhere quiet to park and sleep. Some days it’s on a residential street. To avoid the police and keep warm, he puts up reflective sunshields in his Prius. He tries to work five days in a row before heading home to his partner and dogs.[…]

It’s Lewandoske’s military pension that helps him stay afloat; Uber wages are not enough. He likes driving, but, he said, “They need to stop lowering their rates.” Lewandoske tries to earn $125 a day no matter how many hours it takes. Sometimes that means he drives 6 hours, other days 18.