NYC Uber, Lyft drivers poised to get 9% pay raise under TLC proposal to be voted next week
Uber and Lyft drivers are set to get a roughly 9% raise under new rules expected to be voted upon next week by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The proposed changes to the TLC’s minimum-pay rules for rideshare drivers would come after similar rules were blocked by an Uber lawsuit last year.
The TLC’s proposal — presented to a packed room of some 100 rideshare drivers at the agency’s Lower Manhattan headquarters this week — seeks to adjust the current minimum rate to account for increased vehicle expenses.
The Commission has raised the required minimum pay three times since 2019 to account for inflation — but driver expenses outpaced general inflation in 2022, said James DiGiovanni, the TLC’s assistant commissioner for policy.
“Vehicle costs were way up, fuel costs were way up — and we know that those are two very significant components for driver expenses,” DiGiovanni said at the Wednesday hearing.
Dinara Zhanpeissoua, who said she has made 12,000 trips for Uber and Lyft over the last five years, said she learned a lot about hear earnings while going over her taxes with her accountant.
“My gross income was $85,000. It doesn’t look bad, right? That was my first thought,” Zhanpeissoua said at the hearing.
“Then we started to count expenses,” she said, to the chuckles of several other drivers.
“Monthly car installments, gas, TLC insurance, car maintenance supplies, car parking garages, yearly car inspection, TLC inspection — all these expenses in total was $35,000.”
“That left me with $50,000,” she said. “Taxes and fees were in total $32,000.”
“That leaves me with $18,000 per year,” Zhanpeissoua said. “Do I make a minimum wage? No. Do I need a raise? Obviously.”
Alpha Barry said he’s been a driver for 21 years, most recently for Lyft.
“I’m still struggling. I have $60,000 debt,” he said. “Even my insurance — I have to borrow money to pay for my insurance. We have all the expenses, and we do all the work, and we get paid very little.”
Josh Gold, an Uber spokesman, knocked the TLC’s plan, which bases much of drivers’ pay on a metric known as the “utilization rate” — an assumption about the amount of time drivers have paying passengers in their cars.
TLC’s proposed utilization rate assumes drivers spend at least 56% of their time logged into the Uber or Lyft systems with passengers.
“If a company gets drivers fewer trips, then the company has to pay more per trip to compensate,” the TLC’s DiGiovanni explained.
But the assumption that drivers have passengers for 56% of their logged-in time is too high, Gold said.
In the past, Uber has been accused of locking drivers out of its app without warning in an attempt to keep driver’s utilization rates within TLC pay requirements.
The TLC says Uber has not fallen below the 56% threshold in recent years.
A TLC spokesman told the Daily News Thursday that the agency commissioners were considering the public comments, and that the pay plan will be put to a vote of the full commission on Wednesday.