What is it like to be an Uber driver in Silicon Valley California?

Uber driver light

Recently I saw an article about yet another lawsuit against Uber in London, and I thought that was it – it’s time for me to find out what this hubbub was all about. What is this thing called Uber that’s shaking up the world? And what’s it like to be an Uber driver in Silicon Valley California?

Getting on the Road

I might use Uber for a ride in the future, but first I wanted to see if I could become a driver. Uber’s claim is drive as much or little as you want, so what did I have lose by applying? I went to their site, and after submitting approval for a background check, and uploading a copy of my license, registration, and insurance, I was nearly ready to be an Uber X driver. It took a few days to pass my background check but sure enough I did. The next step – get my driving hardware configured. After only a few days, I received from Uber an iPhone 4S and additional hardware for mounting the phone in Uber driver style.

The iPhone Uber sent me had the Uber application pre-installed for receiving ride requests and tracking fares. Since you can work as little as you like, I logged in during the week to see what it was like being on call. Sure enough, even in the suburbs of San Jose, my Uber iPhone was ringing with activity! When an Uber rider wants a ride, Uber notifies the closest online driver, and gives them only 15 seconds to accept the fare. It’s a little stressful, but during the week I learned I could expect a handful of requests in my area (~2 per hour), so over the weekend I planned to set aside some time to be on call and drive if possible.

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surge pricing map

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