Uber provides student with flexible way to make money

Alexis Hullaby, senior in elementary education, is a driver for Uber in the Manhattan area. (Austin Fuller | The Collegian)

Alexis Hullaby, senior in elementary education, said she first became a partner with Uber, a transportation service, when she needed a quick way to make money after moving to Atlanta last summer. She is back in Manhattan now and still drives as an Uber partner.

“I saw that my car qualified and applied immediately,” Hullaby said. “In the next two hours, I started.”

Hullaby said she has three jobs in addition to being a student and Uber partner, so her favorite thing about being an Uber partner is the convenience of fitting it in her schedule.

“One of my favorite things about Uber is the pay,” Hullaby said. “We receive 80 percent of our trip earnings and get paid that upcoming Thursday. Partners are not technically required to be online for a certain amount of hours a week. We choose when we want to make money.”

Tyler Vaughn, senior in geology, said she works with Hullaby as an Uber Partner Support Representative and Brand Ambassador. Vaughn said she holds office hours at Sparrow Specialty Coffee, where she is available to partners for six hours a week if they need help with something.

“The only thing really different about driving and being a student, from my perspective, you have to work around your class schedule,” Vaughn said. “But it’s really nice because you get to drive whenever you want. It can be nice if you have a class schedule that doesn’t fit with a full-time job, and you get to interact with people around your own age.”

Hullaby said dedicating a couple of nights a week to driving for Uber typically makes her more money than she would in a regular work week, especially on K-State game days or other special events.

“It only takes a few hours on a game day to make $300, and on a regular Aggieville Saturday night you can make about $150 to $300 and pay off things in less time as well as make sure you have time to study,” Hullaby said.

Vaughn said while Uber is used frequently for college students looking for transportation in and out of Aggieville, that is not its sole purpose. Partners often get calls to and from the Manhattan airport, to hotels or sometimes other cities.

“I’ve honestly never had a bad drive,” Hullaby said. “Usually I get military couples, funny drunk college students or out-of-state people who just want to know what Manhattan and Aggieville are about.”

Luke Porter, senior in construction science and management, said he finds Uber to be a very convenient mode of transportation.

“Uber is convenient because you can just request a car,” Porter said. “You don’t have to call anyone, and the cars come quickly because they don’t send one specific car to get you. It is just whoever is closest.”

Vaughn said an important thing for riders to remember when rating their Uber partner is that they are rating the individual, not necessarily Uber as a service. She said things like surge pricing, which occurs when there is a surplus of riders requesting rides and not enough partners on the road, are out of the driver’s control and should not reflect on their rating. The surge serves as an incentive to get partners out driving, Vaughn said.

“Over Fake Patty’s Day we had a really high surge,” Vaughn said. “It was 4.4 times (the normal price). I had a partner come in who actually got kicked off the system. His rating had dropped to a 4.2 but we want it to be a 4.5. We have to give him a verbal warning and restart his account, but the only reason he got such a poor score was because of that surge and people will rate him as a partner based on the surge, but that’s not the partner’s fault.”

Uber first brought its service to Manhattan in April 2015 but had to suspend its use for some time due to a disagreement with the state of Kansas, Vaughn said. It was brought back in the summer of 2015, but Vaughn said things did not start to pick up until October 2015 when people learned it was in town.

Vaughn said while she does work with some college students, a lot of the partners in Manhattan drive for Uber part time and are military or people with full-time jobs.