THE BLOG

Meet 'The Rideshare Guy' (He Works for Uber, Lyft and Sidecar)

01/29/2015 05:49 pm ET | Updated Mar 29, 2015

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Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Harry Campbell has already been featured in The New York Times for his expertise (he runs the blog and podcast The Rideshare Guy). You may have even heard him recently on NPR's Marketplace Tech.

It's not uncommon for rideshare drivers to drive for multiple services, and Campbell drives for three. With ridesharing gaining so much attention lately, I decided to reach out to Campbell for an email Q&A. Read our exchange below!

Working for Uber, Lyft and Sidecar seems a bit much. Why work for all three and not just one, or even two?
It's important to drive for more than one TNC because that gives you the best opportunity to maximize your earnings potential. Sometimes things are slow on just the Uber app, so if you're able to leverage Lyft too, that means you'll get more requests and earn more money.

What do you love about your job?
There are a lot of things I love about my job, but just to name a few: meeting interesting people, working whenever I want and seeing a correlation between how hard I work and how much money I make.

I've actually given a few hundred rides and never once had a bad experience. I also like to diversify my income as a business owner, because even though I have a full-time job, I like to have multiple sources of income.

The other nice thing is the correlation between effort and pay: the more I work, the more I get paid. I can work 10 hours as a rideshare driver, make $20 an hour, or I can work longer and make more. Finally, I actually enjoy being a driver. When I get off work, I look forward to driving and interacting with different people.

What do you hate about it?
I can't say I really hate anything about being a rideshare driver -- if I hated it, I wouldn't keep doing it! I would say some of the annoying things are when the companies cut prices, as that obviously impacts how much I make hourly.

On the other hand, it just makes me be more strategic about when I drive and how I schedule my driving. Income may fluctuate but that's natural with any industry that is still in its infancy. It will grow and, in my opinion, will get better for both drivers and riders.

What is the worst experience you have ever had on the job?
I luckily don't have any horror stories, like being robbed or assaulted. I know it has happened to some people, but I've been lucky that it hasn't happened to me. Also, it's funny, but knock on wood, no one has ever puked in my car. I take precautions that it won't happen by keeping bags in my car and keeping my eye on people in the back seat. It's definitely something you have to keep in mind as a rideshare driver though, especially if you work late on Friday and Saturday nights!

I'd say the worst thing that has ever happened to me was I got taken on a 'possible' drug buy. We stopped at an ATM, made a pick-up (I waited outside for a while) and then went right back to his house. At least, he didn't drive himself though if he was going to be doing something nefarious.

What is a redeeming experience you have had while working?
I've had a lot of redeeming experiences while working! Sure, there are definitely a few bad apples among rideshare passengers, but that's common in any job. Personally, my most redeeming experiences while being a rideshare driver have come from talking to different passengers. As a normal person living inside an aerospace engineer's body, I find that I don't have a lot in common with 90+% of the people that I work with.

Sometimes I just need to chat with new people face-to-face. That's where rideshare comes in handy. You can literally turn the app on whenever you want and flip into driver mode. And did I mention my wife is in med school? Long story short, I have a lot of me-time and driving is a great way to fill some of that space.

What do you feel about the bad press that Uber has been receiving lately?
Given how new ridesharing companies are as a business, I think they're going to experience a lot of growing pains, including in how management articulates its policies. No company is perfect: look at Microsoft CEO apologize for remarks he said about women asking for raises.

I'm not saying Uber gets a free pass because it's a new company. In fact, there are many things about Uber that I think could be improved, both as a rideshare driver and as a passenger. On the other hand, I think the industry is new and growing, and there are always growing pains associated with that. Time will tell if Uber is on the right track or if there are underlying, structural issues.

Does it worry you that Uber (and probably Lyft and Sidecar too) can track drivers and users trips? Uber is currently fighting NYC wanting them to hand over trip data. Do you think the government should have the data of your passengers travels?
Since all of these questions are related, I'll try to answer them together. I don't think it's a bad thing that Uber (and other rideshare companies) are partnering with cities to share smart data. Government collaboration on trip data is likely a good thing for society. In fact, Uber is partnering with the city of Boston to share trip data to help manage urban growth, reduce traffic congestion, and expand public transportation. If rideshare data is used in ways that manage urban growth and reduce traffic congestion, I'm all for sharing it and making it accessible to the government. I live near one of the most congested cities in the nation: Los Angeles. I'd gladly take fewer cars on the road!

With regards to New York, it seems as if there are additional factors at play: NYC may be asking for more user information than Uber wanted to share. For example, the information shared with Boston is anonymized and based on users zip codes, not other identifying information. I do believe Uber's policy to be inconsistent, but I also think it is one of those growing pains that will be solved as the company grows and determines its nationwide policies.

Can you expand on what Uber needs to improve?
Uber needs to improve their image and public perception. We've seen countless media stories over some big ticket items like privacy, pay for drivers and more. Uber's acted like they're above reproach through all of this bad press but it seems like they're finally starting to realize that this could be affecting their growth.

Of the three rideshare companies you work for which is the best, and why? What's the worst one to work for?
Uber is both the best and the worst companies to work for. It's the best because you can make the most money and there are always a lot of requests for riders. On the other hand, it's the worst because Uber doesn't seem to care too much for their drivers. They seem to be more concerned with the company's growth than the growth of their drivers.

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Harry Campbell via The Rideshare Guy