Okay back to my stuff. (gotta love the LV cabbie’s blog….its one awesome read!)
Its a wee bit different in Denver than Vegas, so I’m going to give away a few secrets…well not really, but a LOT of people have some serious misconceptions about how things work in general. This is the first job I’ve ever worked where a LOT of people don’t think or realize that the driver is WORKING. Stories about this will crop up during following posts.
I use my company (Metro) for how things go in the main. There are some differences ‘tween the four companies here (Metro, Yellow, Freedom, Union), but the general stuff is fairly similar.
- Cab drivers (MOST of em’) are independent contractors. Meaning: We’re on our own for the most part. Each driver leases a vehicle (including liability insurance, dispatch support, as well as the autocab computer system –including gps and such). Its not cheap, and the rate varies with the types of vehicles.
- While Yellow cab has multiple leases (weekly/daily/weekend/etc.,etc.) Metro has one: The weekly lease. Between 600 and 800 dollars’ish /week for the vehicle based at 6 days with Sundays as a “free” day. The driver sets his/her own schedule/hours and income depends solely on the driver’s motivation and ability to understand the ebb/flow of calls.
- All drivers believe (myself included) that these leases are way toooo high for the quality of the vehicles/support we receive in return. BUT, good income can still be made with a little effort.
- The rates that show up on the meter are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission with a bit of gray area in between for extras and such determined by the driver.
- Some of us cabbies actually aren’t foreigners. (couldn’t resist.)
- The drivers are NOT usually responsible for the horrible lag times between call and pickup on the weekends. This is almost ALWAYS a backlog with the central dispatch getting the right job to the closest cab in the area. Weekend nights are a MESS from this perspective, and the drivers almost always bear the brunt of angry customers. It ain’t the driver’s fault 99.99% of the time.
- Cab drivers are in a service oriented business, and tipping is a very real and very NEEDED part of the business. While the rates are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, the driver isn’t wallowing in buckets of cash (see lease rates for the reason). Waiter/waitress gratuities are calculated at 15%, while drivers (cabs and limos) are at 10% of total fare/bill. Of course this does depend upon the quality of service, but there are a LOT of people who either ignore this, or just plain don’t realize it. (Much to the teeth grinding distress of the cab driver who gets stiffed, especially on “short hops” –fares less than 10 dollars).
- Most cab drivers are NOT evil long hauling assholes. Enough are to give the rest of us a bad name, but believe it or not most drivers (that I’ve met anyway) are decent folk doing a fairly stressful job day in and day out.
- Day in and day out = 6-7 days a week. While some (like me) don’t bust long hours, the cab driver who wishes to make a good income almost HAS to work 5-10 hours a day. A good week means a couple days off if needed/wanted, but a BAD week can mean no days off at all. Period.
- Long Hauling – the practice (or some would say “art”) of taking the longest possible route from point A. to point B. to increase the fare. This DOES occur from time to time with most drivers, but usually it almost always involves a passenger who pisses off the driver toward the start of the ride, OR an honest mistake. There are plenty of drivers who do this stuff maliciously, but less than people would think. Actually, funnily and even more-so…ironically…this happens because the passenger thinks the route he “knows” is better….and invariably the cabbie (after the first few days on the job) learns NOT to disagree with these Einsteins….and it means a higher fare with the customer smug in his oblivious superiority to the guy/gal who drives the routes constantly.
- DIA. Denver International Airport gets its own number. The holy grail for all cabbies, especially from the suburbs. This is the golden “good day” nugget, as it averages between 60 and 100 dollars for a 25-35 minute trip. We cab drivers worship the former idiot mayor Pena and his boulevard because it is normally the best money we make for a single trip. There are two locations in the metro area that are ‘limited’ (meaning a capped rate), and this is the Denver downtown area and the downtown Boulder area. There are no caps outside of these two places, so the meter determines the price. Denver’s rate is 65$ from downtown, and Boulder is 85$ from within its city limits. An example: A pickup at 112th and Sheridan Blvd > DIA is roughly 78 dollars. When the lease breakdown = 120.00/day (on average), this one trip can turn a bad day into a very good day in a short amount of time.
More in part deux comin’ vera’ soon!