Investors shouldn’t worry about any costs resulting from Uber’s $40,000 “driver appreciation reward” ahead of its listing today.
Only a handful of the ride-hailing giant’s drivers — if any — will have driven for Uber frequently enough and long enough to be eligible for its biggest cash prize.
Uber pledged to pay $40,000 to drivers who completed 40,000 trips— including one trip this year — before April 7, and had an account in good standing. The average Uber driver would have to work seven days a week for more than 25 years to hit that amount.
The average Uber driver in the US completes just under 30 trips a week, according to a study of nearly 1.9 million Uber drivers by John List — Uber’s ex-chief economist, now chief economist at Uber’s archrival Lyft— and a team of other economists.
At that rate, a typical driver makes around 1,550 trips a year, meaning it would take them around 26 years to reach 40,000 trips.
Uber’s figures back up that estimate. The company’s 3.9 million drivers worldwide completed 1.5 billion trips in the last three months of 2018, according to its IPO filing. Therefore, the average driver made around 385 trips in the 13-week period, or about 30 trips a week — in line with List’s findings.
Some drivers work more than others, but topping 40,000 trips is an extremely tall order.
The most prolific driver we could find, James Earl, managed just over 9,200 trips in a year and a half according to a screenshot of his Uber profile posted by therideshareguy.com, a blog for ride-share drivers. At Earl’s rate of roughly 120 trips per week — about 17 trips a day, seven days a week — it would take six-and-a-half years to reach 40,000 trips.
Completing 40,000 trips is certainly possible, but two factors suggest only a miniscule number of Uber drivers have reached that tally.
First, the Uber study found that 68% of drivers were no longer active after six months, suggesting very few will have stayed on the platform long enough.
Second, Uber launched in 2011, so the latest a driver of Earl’s caliber could have started their Uber journey — and fit in six-and-a-half years of driving before the April 7 deadline — was late in 2012.
There are some minor caveats. The Uber study only looked at UberX and UberPool drivers, meaning drivers who completed trips for Uber Eats and UberXL were excluded. Uber’s “trips” statistic also counts an UBERPool ride with three paying customers as three trips for the driver, allowing UberPOOL drivers to complete far more trips per day than other Uber drivers.
Still, it’s safe to say that completing 40,000 Uber trips before April would have required near-superhuman energy and tenacity.
Anyone with that kind of drive deserves the $40,000 reward.