In continuing with my coverage of different ride share apps and their level of service, I recently requested an UberX car and was surprised to see an all-white Mercedes R350 pull up outside. Upon entering, I complimented the driver on the vehicle, saying it was nicer than the typical UberX ride.
UberX drivers, as you probably know, so far don’t need to have a commercial license and commercial auto insurance, although that has drawn major opposition from legal, legitimate ground transportation operators. They only need be 23 years old with personal license and insurance. For most UberX drivers, the vehicles they drive are their personal vehicles, and although the drivers keep them clean, the nicest models you typically see are four-door mid-level sedans, such as a Toyota Camry, Mazda 3, or something similar.
The driver of this R350 said he had just recently purchased the vehicle with the intention of moving up into Uber Black status, because the rates are better. He said he was in the process of applying for his TCP and CPUC registration, and that he had started with UberX just a few weeks ago to earn some money while his paperwork was processed. He also mentioned how he was going to have a friend wrap the car in black once his registration all cleared.
This wasn’t the first Uber driver I’ve talked to with ambition to advance in the transportation industry. Many Uber Black drivers I believe are using the service to establish their own small limo operations, and market their one-man startups to the passengers they get from the App.
UberX drivers as well are likely considering how they can increase their profit margins, and with an investment toward proper vehicles and licensing, they can give themselves a chance to move up. Time will tell how the transitions play out. The lawsuits over UberX and Lyft accident claims have forced the insurance companies into action, with many of them denying coverage to users who only have personal policies and not commercial ones.
But for this UberX driver and his plans, he hopes to soon be fully licensed and behind the wheel of a quality vehicle to provide a higher level of service, for a higher price.
— Tim Crowley, LCT senior editor
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