When you’re looking to catch a last-minute ride, what comes to mind first: Uber or taxis?
The bright yellow cab is an iconic sight in New York City and metropolitan areas across the world, but as Uber becomes a verb that might as well be in the dictionary, the playing field has leveled. In many cities, rideshare services have tipped the scale.
As the contentious battle between Uber and taxis continue, drivers more than ever have the opportunity to choose their route and take part in shaping transportation and the gig economy. Every route has its unique benefits.
Read this article to learn the difference between three unique earning opportunities — UberX, taxis, and Uber Taxi — including driver requirements and how much money you can make.
When you think of Uber, there’s a strong chance that UberX is the product you’re thinking of.
This rideshare service connects users to a nearby ride in a standard sedan, straight from the Uber app — or even online if you don’t have an iPhone or Android. Available in most major cities, this is one the most affordable Uber rides you can find.
While Uber also offers high-end services like Uber Black and larger vehicles through UberXL, UberX is most commonly compared to taxis due to its size, cost, and impact on the taxi industry as a whole.
Pros and Cons for Drivers
One of the main reasons to drive UberX is because of its popularity. Everyone knows Uber.
Riders love it for its convenience, live ride updates, and upfront fare estimates. This means that you’ll likely have more requests driving in one day than you would driving with any other car service.
In addition, unlike metered services, you will frequently have opportunities to earn beyond your standard fare.
For example, when areas have high demand, driver surge pricing kicks in and your earnings multiply. Events can bring special offers that add dollars to every trip. You can also earn thousands by referring new drivers.
However, driving UberX isn’t the most lucrative gig out there. Expenses can cause UberX drivers’ average earnings to plummet to $10 per hour.
UberX Driver Requirements
Every Uber driver must meet a set of minimum requirements to get started on the app. A few highlights:
- You must be at least 21 years old
- You must have at least one year of licensed driving experience (or three, if you’re under 23)
- You must pass an online background check
In addition to drivers fulfilling requirements, their vehicles must fit requirements specific to the UberX product.
Most newer sedans will do, as long as they have four doors, five seats, and seat belts. However, keep in mind that your vehicle will need to pass annual inspections and be well-maintained without modifications to be accepted.
Standard insurance and registration is always required, though some city regulations require rideshare drivers to have additional licenses to receive requests.
Traditional taxis have been around for over a century. This ride-hailing service is as classic as they come.
In the busiest cities, riders can stand on the side of the street to call over any unoccupied taxi — just like in your favorite movies. Anywhere else, you can give your local taxi company a call, or stand by taxi areas at the airport, to get a metered ride. At the end, riders are usually expected to leave a cash tip.
To modernize and catch up with Uber and Lyft, which have taken a nearly 73% share of the ground transportation industry, many taxi companies now offer apps, online booking, and options for payment methods beyond cash and credit cards.
However, the taxi industry is still often regarded as one of many left behind by technology disruptions, alongside newspapers, travel agencies, and more. Even major taxi brands are selling for less than a million, and others are being forced to merge.
Still, some riders still choose taxis over Uber with safety as their primary reason. Taxis are known to be thoroughly regulated across all states, creating greater safety guarantees, though Uber and Lyft are increasing safety measures as they go.
Pros and Cons for Drivers
There are reasons that taxi drivers are still sticking with the industry through its decline, and even protesting Uber to protect their current living. Most prominently, driving a taxi can be far more stable than driving any Uber product.
If you own your own taxi cab, you can expect at least 15% tips and make up to $17 per hour, minus expenses like gas and insurance. Some taxi companies may actually offer salaries and benefits.
While the stability of taxi driving may be greater, the stability of the industry is not. If you ever wondered why a professional driver may switch to the Uber platform, this is one major reason.
A second? If you work with a taxi company, which will often be the case due to licensing needs, you’ll have to pay fairly large fees to use their cabs — often around 33%, which is heftier than Uber’s 25% rate.
Taxi Driver Requirements
To become a taxi driver, you must pass a strict requirements set by your specific city.
In addition to requirements shared with Uber, like having a driver’s license and meeting a minimum age, cities usually require that professional drivers fill out paperwork, pay a fee, and be fully trained and tested before they can receive their taxi driving license.
Most cities also have medical requirements to keep your passengers safe on the roads.
Once you’re certified, you can choose to invest in your own taxi or lease out a taxi by joining a taxi company. Taxi insurance, background checks, and additional city-specific requirements may be required before you start.
Lesser known in the world of Uber products is the existence of Uber Taxi, which blends the modern convenience of Uber with the style of a traditional taxi service.
Riders are able to request professional drivers with taxi cabs at a set metered rate, gratuity rate, and booking fee straight from the app. This gets them the benefits of a typical Uber ride, such as getting their driver’s information upfront and cashless payments, without having to deal with surge pricing.
Uber Taxi, sometimes known as UberCab, isn’t widely marketed. This is because the service only exists in a small number of international cities — in estimate, a little over 20 worldwide — including Boston, Sydney, Tokyo, and Chicago.
Pros and Cons for Drivers
One reason Uber drivers choose Uber Taxi is because it allows them to earn where they couldn’t before.
At some airports in the United States, typical ridesharing services are restricted, whereas licensed taxis are not. By driving for Uber Taxi, they are able to receive requests from these previously inaccessible places.
Plus, by receiving requests via the Uber app, drivers may find themselves receiving a higher volume of requests than a taxi driver would, since they’re using a widely trusted brand.
In many cases, Uber Taxi is actually the only Uber service available. Even where UberX isn’t available, Uber will very likely still be a known brand, or at least more convenient than a taxi, which means more requests for you.
There are downsides compared to driving UberX, however.
For example, driving at a metered rate means you won’t have the opportunity to take advantage of special incentives or surge pricing, which multiplies your earnings in busy areas and during events with high demand.
However, when it’s Uber Taxi vs. taxis, Uber Taxi may still be the breadwinner.
Uber Taxi Driver Requirements
It’s hard to state exact requirements for Uber Taxi, as they vary widely across the board. You’ll still have to pass the same general driver requirements as UberX, and fulfill the global requirement of having a licensed taxicab.
However, the rest is heavily based on city. Some examples:
- Chicago’s UberCab drivers must register their vehicles with the Chicago BACP, have commercial insurance, and have an eligible license plate.
- Requirements in Jordan are more lax, but vehicles must still be 2012 models or newer.
- Uber Taxi drivers in Israel must have Israeli licensed vehicles, 2008 models or newer.
Steer Toward Your Route
Now that you’ve gained insight on three unique opportunities to earn in the transportation field, you can move forward with the route you feel is best for you.
To get started as a taxi driver, we recommend first checking you local requirements, then pursuing the certificates or licenses you need. Ready to become an Uber driver?