Lyft, Uber helping students earn money

Many students struggle to make ends meet, and on top of school and studying, have no choice but to work a part-time job. Rather than your typical server or sales associate job however, some have opted for a different way to support themselves. Students are beginning to sign up as drivers for Lyft and Uber.

The Austin City Council approved an ordinance last Friday that legalized transportation network companies (TNCs). This means that Lyft and Uber drivers no longer have to worry about the possibility of getting towed or arrested.

St. Edward’s University senior John Wooding started driving for Lyft earlier this month and has not faced any problems.

“Then again I’m not driving around with a stupid pink moustache on my car,” Wooding said.

Drivers for Lyft are not required to put a pink moustache on their car. Wooding believes that the giant ornament is effectively putting a target on drivers to be pulled over by the police through the attention it carried.

While he may not have a pink moustache, city councilman Chris Riley is leading the charge to legalize TNCs.

“I’ve been working hard to try to figure out a way we could legitimize those operations,” Riley said.

Riley finally figured out a way to make Uber and Lyft legal in Austin. The city council passed the ordinance with only one dissenting vote coming from councilwoman Laura Morrison.

The ordinance requires Uber and Lyft to provide a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance coverage if the driver is in a car accident that causes property damage or bodily harm.

Drivers must have a valid driver’s license, proof of registration, current automobile insurance, be at least 21 years of age, and their vehicle must be in compliance with state inspection requirements.

Uber and Lyft have 30 days to agree to the ordinance.

Another student that works for Lyft is St. Edward’s senior Chinwe Okorie. She explains that the process to join Lyft as a driver is easy, but she did face one problem.

“I applied and eventually got approved because my license address was different from where I lived so there was this big hoopla,” Okorie said. “I’ve heard from other people that (Lyft) makes too big of a deal with the process.”

The process to become a driver is fairly simple. First, drivers apply, and once they are approved they meet with a Lyft mentor. This mentor shows the applicant how to be a Lyft driver and interviews the applicant to see if they are qualified to join the company.

After this meeting, the applicant must wait for Lyft to approve and grant access to the driving portion of the app.

Students are not the only people applying to become drivers for the two companies. Riley said that when he used Uber for the first time, his driver was a school teacher.

“School teachers don’t make a ton of money so this was his way to make ends meet,” Riley said. “He loved it; he was providing passengers a service and getting some good money.”

Okorie said that she started driving for Lyft to cover her textbook funds.

“One night covered plenty of my book expenses,” she said.

Wooding said that during his first four hours of driving he made $110.

“There’s a fair number of people who are interested in this and I think it will be a big deal to make some progress,” Riley said. “It just requires shifting gears, being open to change and doing things differently. Austin ought to be out in front on doing this sort of thing.”

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