Weeks after Uber and Ola drivers protested against falling incomes and long working hours, Uber India’s president Amit Jain said in a blog that the company is committed to its drivers, and will continues to invest in its people, product and programme.
While Jain admitted that driver earnings vary widely, depending on individual driver behaviour – where, when and how much they drive. He also said that it is difficult to estimate average income, but he gave a range. “Currently, 80% of drivers across India who are online for more than six hours a day make between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,500 net, after Uber’s service fee,” Jain wrote.
Uber charges 20% commission on drivers’ fare.
Jain even apologised for the disruption in commute that customers faced. “It has been a difficult time, and we are grateful for the strong support we’ve received from riders and drivers across the country, and to the courts and law enforcement in condemning the use of violence and intimidation,” he said.
Drivers in Delhi and Karnataka went on a strike as they claimed that their income had fallen due to the changing incentive structure. Jain said that they movement was taken ahead by a small set of people, and not the majority of drivers.
Uber has over 4,00,000 driver partners. “Small numbers of individuals, who do not represent the majority of the driver community, have been preventing drivers who want to work from doing so,” Jain said, adding that the company is working to resolve their concerns, and reduce confusion, to avoid protests in the future.
For the American cab-hailing company, India is an important country, where it plans to pump in billions of dollars, especially after exiting China, where it has consolidated its business with Didi Chuxing, its Chinese competitor.
So far, Uber has invested over a billion dollars into India, and is expected to invest another billion, once the dust over regulatory issues and driver protests settle down.
Caught in a market share battle, Uber and Ola doled out heavy incentives, benefitting drivers and consumers. Driver sign-ups has gone up by 60% year over year. At its peak drivers earned up to Rs 1 lakh a month. That, many drivers claim has fallen down to Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000.
According to Jain’s claims a driver makes anything between Rs 45,000 to Rs 75,000 a month. “While some drivers do earn less than three years ago, we believe that driver earnings in India are attractive for the majority even after reductions in incentives and drivers’ costs are taken into account,” Jain said.
However, the company did signal that it would steer itself away from incentives in major cities, as the programme is to seed ground in new cities Uber launches its service. “Without doing this, it’s hard to ensure drivers are compensated for their time when few riders are aware of the service. As more riders use Uber, drivers are busier and can earn more,” said Jain.