Uber, Lyft and the on-demand economy from the workers perspective – all topics that The Rideshare Guy covers on his website, in his podcasts, and through his YouTube videos.

If you’re driving for Uber, Lyft or a food delivery service like Postmates then you probably know of and subscribe-to Harry Campbell’s variety of media channels. If you’re not a subscriber then you should be, because Harry is the real deal.

As an engineer at Boeing, he started rideshare driving in his free time.  Then he started blogging about it and was immediately buried in requests for all sorts of info about the ins and outs of driving for Uber and Lyft. So Harry quit his job at Boeing to blog about driving for Uber, Lyft and the like fulltime.

In this iDriveSoCal podcast Harry shares, why he made such a drastic career change, why ridesharing definitely isn’t helping traffic congestion in LA and a bunch of other topics where iDriveSoCal and The Rideshare Guy intersect.

(The beginning of this podcast has a little echo – sorry!  Hang-tight through it and it will subside.)

Tom Smith from iDriveSoCal and Harry

***Transcription***

Recording date – October 18, 2018, in Culver City, CA

The Rideshare Guy Joins the iDSC Podcast

Harry Campbell: We’re covering the rideshare industry, everything from how to sign up and get started with Uber and Lyft to what’s going on in the industry.  And, how some of these trends and mobility are changing things.

Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States Southern California. Tom Smith here, and I am joined, I’m excited to be joined by Harry Campbell. Many of you may know of Harry as his AKA alternative moniker, The Rideshare Guy.

Harry Campbell: I’m here. I’m ready. Thanks for having me on, Tom.

Tom Smith: Harry, thanks for joining me. I reached out to you, jeez, I don’t know, a month or two ago, a couple months, summer, I guess, as we’re recording this in … We both have young sons, and I don’t know if you’re like me, but I lose the track of time pretty easily.

“We’re covering the rideshare industry, everything from how to sign up and get started with Uber and Lyft to what’s going on in the industry.”

Harry Campbell: Well, I think I know today’s date because it’s also my son’s nine-month birthday, so I do remember today’s date, but every day here is summer here in SoCal, so …

Tom Smith: Right? Right? Exactly. But I reached out to Harry a couple months ago. We’re sitting here in mid-October, and we finally had the opportunity to connect Harry. Well, Harry, why don’t you describe yourself, what you do as The Rideshare Guy.

Harry Campbell: Sure. So, yeah, that is my nickname. Basically, I run a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, book, and course for Uber and Lyft drivers, so creating lots of various content on all the different platforms, basically helping anyone interested in working for Uber and Lyft, delivering food for Postmates, DoorDash, charging scooters for Bird.

On-Demand [Economny] Focused Media

We really cover a lot of the on-demand economy, but it’s a media business focused on the workers, so anyone working on these platforms day-to-day basis, and we’re covering the rideshare industry.

Specifically, everything from how to sign up and get started with Uber and Lyft to what’s going on in the industry, and how some of these trends and mobility are changing things, so pretty wide-ranging, but it always kind of circles back to that perspective of the worker.

Tom Smith: Yeah, and so our universes intersect. I mean, iDriveSoCal, all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, we cover a lot, right?

We’ll cover the electric aircraft, electric scooter startup company out of Silicon Beach or the LA… but then a lot of automotive, right? I mean, ’cause that’s the way we get around is still…

“…it’s a media business focused on the workers, so anyone working on these platforms day-to-day basis, and we’re covering the rideshare industry.”

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: Automotive, and it’s gonna be automotive-

Harry Campbell: Definitely.

Tom Smith: For a long time to come. Plus, I just love cars, but I also love the idea of flying cars. As petrified as I am of heights, I love the idea of flying cars and where that’s going. Thanks, again, for joining me. I wanted to connect with you because our universes are… They intersect in certain areas, right? One of the things… Well, there’s lots of things I want to talk to you about, but one of the things … Well, you know what? Let’s do this one first. What are the top five vehicles, or three, it can be whatever you want …

Harry Campbell: Sure.

Tom Smith: That Uber and Lyft drivers are driving.

Top Vehicles for Ridesharing

Harry Campbell: Yeah. Well, so, I think the number one vehicle is actually pretty obvious, and I think anyone in probably any major city in the United States or even the world might be able to guess it. It’s the Toyota Prius.

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: We can get into the reasons why, but …

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: We’ve done surveys in the past, and I think just by looking around, you can kind of tell, Toyota Prius is one of the best cars. Then I think from there, off the top of my head, I know we did a survey recently.

I believe it was a Toyota Camry might’ve been right in there second, but it’s typically…

“…I think anyone in probably any major city in the United States or even the world might be able to guess it. It’s the Toyota Prius.”

I remember in our top five, the makers are typically more of the Japanese makers, so Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, and really economical cars that aren’t the flashiest or sexiest.

But, cars that get great gas mileage, aren’t super expensive.  And, I think I usually joke with people when they ask me what the best rideshare vehicle is. I say, well, Toyota Prius is definitely up there, but I think any type of three to four-year-old used economical Japanese made, a Hyundai, or Honda, or Toyota-

Tom Smith: Hyundai is Korean. I gotta point it out.

Harry Campbell: Okay.

Tom Smith: Hyundai is Korean, but it’s an Asian import, nevertheless.

Harry Campbell: All right, so before I get in trouble with someone, let’s call it an Asian import. I’m half Chinese, too, so maybe I get a little credit here, or not credit, I’m not sure-

Tom Smith: Yeah, I think that’s actually more of a demerit against you because you are partially Asian, yourself.

Harry Campbell: I think that is a demerit against me, but yeah.

MPG Drives Vehicle Selection

So, I mean, I think that basically, they aren’t the flashiest or sexiest cars to drive, but at the end of the day.

I mean, rideshare drivers, believe it or not, put a lot of miles on their car, over 1,000 miles a week easily if you’re a full-time driver. And so, you want something that’s gonna really be economical, can handle a lot of miles and gets great gas mileage, of course.

Tom Smith: Yep, yep, yep. While we’re on that topic …

Harry Campbell: Sure.

Tom Smith: The other thing I wanted to ask you is, are they using those cars because they’re not informed of other cars that are great options?

“…rideshare drivers… put a lot of miles on their car, over 1,000 miles a week easily if you’re a full-time driver.”

Harry Campbell: Well, I mean, a lot of people … The unique thing about driving for Uber and Lyft is a lot of people, they didn’t grow up thinking they’re gonna be an Uber driver some day. The company didn’t even exist 10 years ago, right?

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: People didn’t even really start hearing about it until five years ago. You have a lot of people that are getting into this line of work with the cars they already own.

If you look at the numbers across the world, personal vehicle ownership is extremely high in the United States compared to other countries, which basically is to say that a lot of people have cars. A lot of people…

You actually only need a 2002 or newer car to drive with Uber and Lyft. The average age is closer to a 2010 or 2011, so most drivers do have newer cars.

Tom Smith: 2002 or newer is all they require?

Harry Campbell: Right, so that’s a pretty-

Tom Smith: For, both, Uber or Lyft?

Circumstance Plays a Role

Harry Campbell: Yeah. We’re in 2018, right? So, that’s a 16-

Tom Smith: I mean, yeah, you’re talking-

Harry Campbell: 17-year-old car. That’s-

Tom Smith: When did Priuses first start coming out?

Harry Campbell: I’m not sure, but I think it was the early 2000s, I want to say.

The Ride Share Guy

The Ride Share Guy

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: I haven’t seen too many older Priuses, and that’s the thing, though. Most drivers actually tend to have newer cars, right? 2012, I think, might be the average age, actually, of vehicles, if I recall correctly from our survey, and that’s because a lot of people are using the cars that they were already driving around for personal use, right?

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: And so, they decide someday. Maybe they got laid off from their job, or they want to make a little extra money and say, “Oh, I’m gonna go drive for Uber and Lyft. I already have a car. It’s relatively new. I’m gonna go and drive.” So, a lot of people don’t get into it thinking about, what is the ideal car for Uber and Lyft?

Tom Smith: So, they just start driving what they have.

Harry Campbell: Exactly.

Tom Smith: More of a necessity thing as opposed to-

Harry Campbell: Right. That’s how I got into it, and I wouldn’t say I have the worst car for driving Uber and Lyft, but it’s definitely not the best car out there.

“…a lot of people are using the cars that they were already driving around for personal use…”

Tom Smith: There are so many things I want to talk to you about, and you just touched on one, also, is how you got into it.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: You have an interesting story. You were an aeronautical engineer for Boeing.

Harry Campbell: That’s correct.

Harry’s Path to Ridesharing

Tom Smith: Right? I mean, that’s not exactly a gig that you don’t prepare for quite a number of years.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: And then finally land, and then walk away from to start a blog and drive for Uber or Lyft.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: That’s not the common path.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, no. I guess what I would say now, today, I run my sort of business full-time. I am still an active Uber and Lyft driver, and I do try out lots of new services.

“…you had a hip friend who was like, ‘Hey, have you heard about this new service called Uber?'”

But, my path has been pretty interesting because I was sort of, I guess, classically trained as an engineer. I went to school at UC San Diego, studied aerospace engineering, and low and behold, I became an aerospace engineer.

Working on the structural side of things, most recently, I was at Boeing. While I was at Boeing, this was about five years ago, people were just starting to hear about Uber and Lyft. Maybe you had a hip friend who was like, “Hey, have you heard about this new service called Uber?”

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Harry Campbell: And give you a ride around town, right? But not everyone knew about it.

Tom Smith: And real quick, isn’t it always … Maybe I’m just speaking from my own experience, which has completely changed since I’ve had my son, but isn’t it always alcohol-related that people heard about Uber and Lyft?

Harry Campbell: Oh, yeah, no. We can get into it, but the best time as a driver, typically, the Friday, Saturday nights. We call those the party hours.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: When everyone is out and about …

Tom Smith: Of course.

Harry Campbell: And drinking and wants a safe, cheap ride home.

Tom Smith: Yeah.

With the Help of Booze

Harry Campbell: So, yeah, that’s definitely a popular time, and alcohol is a big factor, I would say [crosstalk 00:08:13] popularity in rides.

Tom Smith: I mean, Uber and Lyft can, like, thank alcohol for their businesses, right? Then all the ancillary businesses around Uber and Lyft, yours included…

Harry Campbell: Definitely.

Tom Smith: Can thank alcohol, as well.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, I can.

Tom Smith: So, really, it’s all about alcohol.

Harry Campbell: I have to concur.

Tom Smith: Sorry. I had to slide off topic there.

“…it’s not rocket science being an Uber and Lyft driver, but it is a little tougher than it looks…”

Harry Campbell: No, that’s totally okay, but I definitely agree with you. Yeah, so I mean for me, I was working at Boeing as an engineer.  But, I started driving for Uber and Lyft on the side, just to really check it out and just to kind of see what it was like.

I wanted to see how much money I could make, and everyone was talking about it. I pretty quickly realized that it’s not rocket science being an Uber and Lyft driver, but it is a little tougher than it looks, right? It’s kind of the ultimate combination of safe driving, which a lot of people are bad drivers, you know?

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Harry Campbell: Customer service, you’re dealing with passengers.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: And you’re also dealing with a lot of drunk passengers, right? People who want to bring beers into your car, who want to fit six-

Tom Smith: Coming back to that alcohol thing.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, six people into the back, right? A lot of… Not life-threatening or challenging situations, but just things that you have to know how to talk to people about.

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Unionize Rideshare Drivers?

Harry Campbell: You also have to know how to run your business because drivers are independent contractors, and so they do need to track their own mileage. They need to think about insurance and liability.

Tom Smith: Didn’t somebody try unionizing them not so long ago? Did I hear-

Harry Campbell: Independent contractors can’t legally become a union, but there are a couple organizations that sort of-

Tom Smith: Tried to rally the troops to do something.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, that kind of rally the troops in New York. There’s a big one called the IDG, the Independent Drivers Guild, and they’re not technically a union, but they do sort of vouch for drivers on a lot of similar issues.

“…they’re not technically a union, but they do sort of vouch for drivers on a lot of similar issues.”

Tom Smith: Okay. Have the Uber and Lyft … Sorry, as I’m getting off in another tangent and didn’t even let you finish your story, but-

Harry Campbell: No worries. It’s a long story, so we can take a break.

Tom Smith: Well, you know what? I feel like we’re gonna do a lot of these podcasts, so there’s a lot of topics that we can cover. I should hold back my urges to go down different paths. My apologies, but have Uber and Lyft recognized these organizations that-

Harry Campbell: Yeah. What’s interesting is the IDG is actually … It was sort of funded and started by Uber. I think that … I’m blanking from my memory, but I believe there was some type of legal settlement or there were some legal issues, and one of the things that came out of this was Uber was going to start this organization in New York that would basically…

Voice of the Drivers

It’s not a union, so they’re not technically allowed to vouch for drivers on issues like pay.  But, they can talk to them about unfair deactivations and really sort of generate a lot of support from drivers there.

New York is a little bit of a different market for UberX and there are a lot of full-time drivers there, so it has been a pretty popular… In New York, a lot of Uber drivers, their livelihood is Uber.

Whereas in LA, California, you have people like me who are just doing it casually, and that’s kind of how I got started with rideshare is I was doing it casually. I sort of noticed… getting back to my story, I started to notice that a lot of people didn’t know what they were doing, right? They were kind of struggling with this app.

Tom Smith: Sure.

“…I’m in these Facebook groups talking to other drivers, but they’re all asking the same questions.”

Harry Campbell: Getting signed up, how to make more money, and here, me, as an engineer, I think about, all right, I’m in these Facebook groups talking to other drivers, but they’re all asking the same questions.

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: What’s the most efficient way of reaching all these people at once? And so, that’s when I decided to start my blog and really just start detailing my experience from a very personal level.

Hey, I signed up to drive with Uber. Here’s what it was like. I went out on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday night. Here’s how much money I made, how to handle passengers who are gonna vomit in your car. And, a lot of sort of issues you might encounter as a rideshare driver.

Harry Shares His Experience

I just kind of blogged about it and my business sort of took off from there. I ended up, about a year into my site, I quit my day job as an engineer to focus on the blog and the business full-time and really haven’t looked back since.

Tom Smith: Were you making money from it when you quit your job?

Harry Campbell: I was making a little bit of money, but … Uber and Lyft allow drivers to refer other drivers on to the platform. It’s actually… Over the years, it’s been a pretty lucrative referral program. In cities like LA, these companies, you might see stories on the news. Uber lost $4 billion last year.

Tom Smith: Right.

“…to give you an example, they pay referral fees sometimes up to $500 for new drivers.”

Harry Campbell: They’re on track, I think, to lose another few billion this year, and so they’ve got a lot of costs. I mean, to give you an example, they pay referral fees sometimes up to $500 for new drivers. And so when I first started, I said-

Tom Smith: $500 to refer?

Harry Campbell: $500. I mean, they’ll need to do a certain number of trips and go through some loops, and twists and turns, but-

Tom Smith: I mean, I’ll sign up right now. We’ll split the money and we’ll go to the bar.

Harry Campbell: That’s some of what I did. When I was first getting started, typically it’s tough with creating content, and especially online businesses. This wasn’t my first foray into online businesses, but… So I knew a bit about what I was getting myself into. I definitely didn’t start my site with the goal of making money, but I knew that if I could do a good job and become maybe an established expert or the go-to resource for drivers everywhere.

The Rideshare Guy is Born

I knew that there would be pretty good monetization opportunities down the road. Fortunately, I did get a few, you know, maybe a couple hundred dollar referrals here and there, and so it wasn’t in the tens of thousands, but it was in the thousands of dollars that I had made maybe after a year, which is a lot more than most people make at doing online businesses.

“It’s cool to be able to say you run your own business and you pay yourself…”

Tom Smith: Sure, but does it qualify for me to walk away from a gig at Boeing?

Harry Campbell: Right. I think that really for me, the reason why I left my job at Boeing was because I could see that… I was spending probably about 20 hours a week creating content.

Driving for Uber and Lyft, and then the rest of the time working at Boeing and doing my normal daily life activities, and so I was really only doing the blog in a part-time fashion.  And, I was able to grow it to around 75,000 or 80,000 page views a month.

My goal, when I really thought that I could make a real business out of it, was 100,000 page views a month. I thought that if I could get there, I knew other bloggers who were in that range and they were kind of… by on a full-time income, maybe $40,000-$50,000 a year, which isn’t a ton here in Southern California.

Harry Campbell, The Rideshare Guy sits in his car ready to the next trip

But I think it’s kind of a cool… It’s cool to be able to say you run your own business and you pay yourself, so that was really my goal.

But really, the reason why I left was because everything was trending up. Uber and Lyft were becoming insanely popular. It seemed like every few months, they were raising more money.

Trending Opportunity

I knew that that was gonna mean they’re gonna hire more drivers, so there’s gonna be more people that need more information. The traffic on my site was at 75,000-80,000 page views a month, but it was growing 10-20%, maybe 30-40% every single month, and so I could sort of see… I mean, I would say I took a calculated risk.

But again, I’m an engineer and I felt like I was taking a risk, but I felt like there was huge, huge, huge upside.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: And if I were to leave my job, and instead of working 20 hours a week, work 60 hours a week, three times as much, with this sort of up and to the right behavior of all the traffic in the industry in general.

It sort of seemed like a good bet to me that, all right, I’ll be able to make a pretty good little living off of this, and that’s sort of what ended up happening within probably six to nine months. I was at the same income as my day job and then kind of went up from there.

“…I would say I took a calculated risk.”

Tom Smith: Good for you. That brings me to the next topic that I want to kind of cover, and that is Uber and Lyft seem… And we talked about this a little bit earlier today. I was mentioning to you Uber Elevate, the, now, second annual conference. It happened, I think, in the summer right here in Los Angeles where Uber brings together a number of people from a number of different industries to deal with the idea of vertical transport.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: That is something that seems like wild, like, really, are we finally gonna have flying cars?

Flying Cars from 15-Million Daily Rides?

Are we finally gonna have vertical takeoff and landing vehicles? It seems the answer to that, more and more, is yes. But then again, there’s also the skeptic, but then you look at the Uber and Lyfts of the world and consider what they’ve done already.

The regulations, and hurdles, and political red tape that they’ve been able to cut through. And all the businesses that have been made and built up around them.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: I mean, can you talk just a little bit? That’s a big piece to chew on, but can you talk just a little bit to that? Because I think I’m not alone when I stand back and still scratch my head like, gosh, these guys have really done this and they’ve done it in pretty breakneck speed.

“…they’re doing 15-million rides a day around the world now. They’re in hundreds of cities.”

Harry Campbell: Yeah, I think definitely. Uber is a polarizing company and a polarizing topic. They’re in the news almost every single day. Especially if you follow anything on the tech or business side of the spectrum.

But, I think the thing to keep in mind is that they have… When you sit back and look at the metrics, I mean, they’re doing 15-million rides a day around the world now. They’re in hundreds of cities.

Tom Smith: 15-million rides a day.

Harry Campbell: Right. Think about that, right? Me, as a driver, I might go out and do 10 or 15 drives. They’re doing… You know, so imagine how many drivers there are, how many passengers there are.

I think when you really sit down and think about just the sheer numbers, you start to think, well, that’s actually pretty amazing. The unique thing, though, is most of their business is UberX, right?

Uber’s Multiple Verticals & Focus

Most of their business is people picking someone else up, dropping them off, and they’re starting to get involved. Uber Eats is another area that’s a big portion of their business, is food delivery.

Then, as you’ve seen, they’re experimenting with a lot of other areas, and so I think Uber Elevate is a good example of that. They’re doing stuff in autonomous vehicles. They’re doing stuff in semi trucks.

They just announced today a program where they’re gonna start basically hiring temp workers, nothing to do with driving, and they’re gonna start working with catering companies and stuff like that.

Tom Smith: What?

Harry Campbell: It’s really random, yeah, and so you can sort of see that I think when these companies get this big, they’ve got a lot of different business units and there are a lot of purposes for Uber Elevate.

“…they’re also involved in a whole lot of other stuff. I don’t think it’s gonna have a material impact on Uber, the company.”

There are a lot of purposes for their autonomous vehicles. I see the UberX and the Uber, really, primarily UberX to some degree Uber Eats as sort of their core businesses. And, now they’re also involved in a whole lot of other stuff. I don’t think it’s gonna have a material impact on Uber, the company.

But, I think it’s cool that they’re gonna go mess around with Uber Elevate or they’re gonna go mess around with autonomous vehicles and do some other stuff.  But, I do think it’s always gonna come back to that core of rideshare and even food delivery to some extent.

Tom Smith: So UberX is just the basic Uber, right?

Harry Campbell: Yeah, so there’s a few different levels. Even within their sort of rideshare… Even within their kind of personal transport space, right, in cars, there’s UberX. That’s the most basic level. That’s what I drive on, I drive…

Uber’s Core Business

Tom Smith: In SoCal.

Harry Campbell: In SoCal.

Tom Smith: Buh, dum, bum.

Harry Campbell: And these are gonna be your everyday person picking you up in a Prius, or a Camry, or a Hyundai…

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: Whatever sort of normal car, and then in other places, Uber also has Uber Select. That’s gonna be more of a mid-level luxury car, like maybe a Lexus ES300, a BMW 3 series, something that’s a little nicer, but maybe not a top, top of the line car.

“They’ve got a lot of options now, and they’ve got a lot of tiers, but 90% of their business is UberX.”

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: The Uber also has Uber Black, which is their commercial services. These are gonna be more town cars and they also have Uber SUV, which is in their commercial line. And these are typically what we call professional drivers.

Someone who is professionally licensed, very similar to a taxi. Those are sort of their three basic levels. Then within there, they’ve experimented with lots of different things. In LA, for example, they have Uber Lux. Uber Lux is actually a service. Basically, I call it the $100,000 or more car level. If you have a Tesla, if you have a really nice Audi, or a BMW 7 series, you can actually drive Uber Lux.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: As you might imagine, the prices go up …

Tom Smith: Sure, of course.

Harry Campbell: For passengers, but-

Tom Smith: I didn’t know they had broken it down to so many tiers. That’s crazy.

Harry Campbell: Well, and that’s the thing. They’ve got a lot of options now, and they’ve got a lot of tiers, but 90% of their business is UberX.

Tom Smith: X, okay.

Uber Rideshares Started with Simplicity

Harry Campbell: Right, and when you think about why Uber became so popular, it was UberX. It was that simplicity. Open the app. Press a button. Get a car. You used to not even have to enter a destination. I don’t know how often you take Uber or if your audience remembers that.

Tom Smith: Used to do it all the time, but ever since my son came, the whole going out to the bars thing has come to a screeching halt, pun intended.

Harry Campbell: Yeah. It’s funny because I think that’s one of the aspects that made Uber so revolutionary, is they started off very, very simple, very consumer-friendly with everything.  With the credit card, and with the app, and everything like that.

“…they started off very, very simple, very consumer-friendly with everything.”

Over time, they’ve gotten more complicated. They now allow tipping. You now have to enter your destination, you can now split a ride. And you can take an Uber Pool and share a ride, but what they started with was that UberX product that was very, very simple.

Tom Smith: Do you think that if they started with the more robust product that they have now, that they would’ve… This is kind of just a trivia or just a question that I’m asking.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: ‘Cause the whole tipping thing, I mean, I used to love those. I remember getting out of that Uber. It was five stars, all right, thanks, man.

Harry Campbell: And you’re done.

Tom Smith: Done, right?

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: But now, it’s like it’s that plus the app keeps on asking you how much you want to tip.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: And it’s like, well, if it started this way, would taxis have really been so negatively affected and would Uber have taken off?

Uber Didn’t Invent Ridesharing

Harry Campbell: I mean, honestly, I think it really could’ve dampened their effect. This is me, as a driver, someone who obviously wants tips.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: This is, as you might imagine, lots of drivers want to be tipped on every ride, but I think tipping… When Uber first started, they were definitely a consumer-friendly… It was a product that was thought up from the consumer perspective, right?

These guys that founded Uber, Travis and Garrett Camp, the guys who founded it, these were not guys who were taxi drivers who wanted to revolutionize the system, right?

Tom Smith: Right.

“…a tipping option, I don’t think it would’ve been a game changer, but it definitely could have maybe slowed down their growth.”

Harry Campbell: They were passengers who wanted a better way of calling for a ride. They still did have the app and the ability to pay over credit card.  And so if they would’ve had a tipping option, I don’t think it would’ve been a game changer, but it definitely could have maybe slowed down their growth.

I think a good example of this is actually a company called Sidecar. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this company, but they were actually the pioneers of rideshare. They were the first rideshare company doing rideshare in San Francisco before Uber ever even existed.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: They kind of coined that model with your friend picks you up in a car and drops you off. They ended up going out of business. I think one of their biggest sort of faults or problems was that they gave the passengers too many options. Drivers could set their own prices. You could have four doors, you could have two doors. Or, you could set your own price, and so you had all these things going on.

Uber & Lyft Aren’t the Only Players

So as a passenger, every time you requested a ride, it would be a different price, different car. Sometimes it was two doors. Sometimes it was four doors. They almost gave the customers too much choice. They ended up-

Tom Smith: Hop on the back of my motorcycle.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, no. I mean, they ended up… It’s funny because not a lot of people have heard of them, but they were the first rideshare company, and then Lyft came and Uber was doing black car only at first.

“…not a lot of people have heard of them, but they were the first rideshare company…”

They saw how well Sidecar and Lyft were doing in San Francisco. Uber copied that model and then exploded from there, and now they’re the dominant market share players, so definitely an interesting sort of business war case study.

Tom Smith: And there is just Uber and Lyft, really, as the big players, right?

Harry Campbell: Yeah. They’re sort of the big players today. In places like New York, for example, there’s a couple others, Juno, Gett, Via, and there’s a bunch of small ones, but for the most part, it’s Uber and Lyft in the US. Then around the world, there’s some pretty big players, but in other countries.

Tom Smith: So here in the United States, is it New York first and then LA, as far as rideshares?

Harry Campbell: Yeah. I think New York is… A lot of people say it’s one of the biggest transportation markets in the world. I think that New York-

Tom Smith: Well, we are the automotive capital of the United States.

Harry Campbell: Exactly.

Tom Smith: Right here in Southern California.

Ridesharing Making Traffic Worse

Harry Campbell: LA is the automotive capital. New York might be one of the biggest transportation markets in the world. I think LA and SF are definitely up there, LA, SF, New York, Chicago.

A lot of people always ask me, “Oh, what are the best or biggest markets for rideshare?” I don’t feel that I have a whole bunch of insight off of there, ’cause I usually just say that it typically lines up with the biggest cities by population, right?

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: LA, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and a couple places in Texas, the big cities and sort of down there from the list, but yeah.

I think SF is a little unique ’cause that’s where a lot of these services started, so you have a lot of demand there. Drivers make a lot of money in San Francisco driving, but LA, New York, Chicago are up there, too.

“I would say every major city in the US, I think there’s pretty common complaints of increased congestion.”

Tom Smith: Now let’s talk about… With all this rideshare going on, and we talked about this over lunch and I think the first time that we got together, as well. With all this ridesharing going on, traffic congestion is not getting better.

Harry Campbell: Definitely getting worse.

Tom Smith: In Southern California?

Harry Campbell: I think in every-

Tom Smith: Everywhere?

Harry Campbell: I would say every major city in the US, I think there’s pretty common complaints of increased congestion. I’ve seen it in LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New York. I would say that probably even echoes around the world, too. I think more people and same amount of space, you can do the math, right?

Tom Smith: Right, right. Conceptually, of course, maybe we already answered the question, and that is the alcohol component, right? It’s Friday and Saturday nights.

The Rideshare Revolution

Harry Campbell: Well, actually, it’s funny. I grew up in LA. When I was growing up in LA, I don’t think I ever met a single person who did not own a car. I grew up on the west side of LA, so a little bit of upper socioeconomic area.

You could definitely say, and so it was uncommon or almost rare, nonexistent, you could say, on my side of town to meet someone without a car. Driving for Uber and Lyft over the past five years, I have met dozens of people in LA-

Tom Smith: Is that right?

Harry Campbell: Who did not have a car. I think that that would’ve been unheard of in the past, I mean, these are normal people, old people, young people. It’s not specific to any one person group, place, or thing.

“Uber and Lyft, have really revolutionized the way people get around in certain cities.”

Uber and Lyft, in that way, have really revolutionized the way people get around in certain cities. San Francisco, it’s gonna be a lot easier to ditch your car than it is in LA.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: But, I think definitely-

Tom Smith: Well, Chicago, too, and New York, too, but that’s because-

Harry Campbell: Chicago and New York.

Tom Smith: That’s because you have-

Harry Campbell: ‘Cause they’re so dense, right?

Tom Smith: They’re dense, but then you also have great public transportation.

Harry Campbell: Public transportation.

Tom Smith: Here…

Harry Campbell: Pretty bad.

Tom Smith: I mean, come on, right? AAA just did this today. You know what? I think that was one that… Remember that email that I sent you a number of weeks ago?

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: A month or whatever it was… AAA’s [Rideshare vs. Vehicle Ownership] report that they did…

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Not Owning a Car Costs More

Tom Smith: And it was multiple… I don’t think it was the entire nation, but it looked at and said, okay, is it really more economical to exclusively rideshare and not own a car?

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: The answer was different for every city, but the answer was overwhelming, no, it most certainly is not…

“…is it really more economical to exclusively rideshare and not own a car? …the answer was overwhelmingly, no, it most certainly is not…”

Harry Campbell: Right.

Tom Smith: More economical to just rely on rideshare and not own a car.

Harry Campbell: Well, the thing is, I think it’s very variable, depends on the city and depends on the person, and obviously, the further commute you have, you might imagine less economical, right?

Tom Smith: It doesn’t mean that people aren’t gonna do it, but-

Harry Campbell: Right, exactly. Yeah, no. I think it’s interesting, we’re not really near the… I mean, I think we’re getting close to the point where it could be more economical to rideshare versus owning a car if you’re sort of in the right situation. I’m not talking about the person that lives right next door to their work.

I’m talking about the person that maybe has a 5 or 10-minute commute versus an hour commute. If you have an hour commute, it’s probably gonna be pretty tough to make that work.

Tom Smith and Harry

But, I think we are actually getting close, a lot closer than people realize, but there is the big mental hurdle or mental barrier of not owning a car. Oh, what do I do if I… That once a year when I go to the snow, or when I need to go to Palm Springs, or whatever it might be, and so I think there is still a bit of a mental hurdle there.

More Mobility Options

But I mean, if you look at the direction these companies are headed, Uber and Lyft, they’re aggregating lots of different options. Now when you open the Uber app here in LA, especially if you’re in Santa Monica, you see UberX. You see all the different levels of Uber, but you also see bikes. You also see scooters.

Tom Smith: Yep.

Harry Campbell: You’re seeing other modes of transportation. If you’re in San Francisco, you can actually open the app from the Uber passenger side and you can see Getaround, which actually allows you to rent a car for the day.

Let’s say you’re someone living in San Francisco and you don’t have a car. You can take an Uber, you can take a bike, you can even take a scooter now in San Francisco. Or, you can rent a car from a car sharing service, like Getaround, for the day.

Tom Smith: But let me back up a little bit. Those are all different apps?

Harry Campbell: That’s all from the Uber app.

“…if you look at the direction these companies are headed, Uber and Lyft, they’re aggregating lots of different options.”

Tom Smith: Really?

Harry Campbell: What I’m saying is Uber, the direction they’re heading is aggregating a lot of these different modes of transportation. Now, they aren’t gonna aggregate multiple companies. The reason why they have Jump Bikes, for example, they bought Jump Bikes. Now there’s Jump Bikes in the app. They-

Tom Smith: Strategic partnerships, acquisitions, whatever.

Harry Campbell: Right, strategic partnerships, acquisitions. Getaround is more of a partnership. But, it wouldn’t surprise me at some point in the future if they owned a piece or, had some type of very revenue share partnership, strategic partnership, with a car-sharing company because Uber and Lyft loves people who drink, right?

Ridesharing’s Future in Mobility

They love those customers because they’re taking rides Friday, Saturday nights, maybe here and there throughout the week, but what they really love in the future is the people who ditch their cars.

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Harry Campbell: Because when you ditch your car and you start to think about, okay, maybe you bike, maybe you walk, maybe public transport here and there.

But, you still… most…  a lot of trips in the city are gonna be taken by car. If you don’t have a car, that person who goes from a casual Uber or Lyft user, they don’t just start going double or triple. They might do 10 times as many rides in a single week. That’s sort of what these companies, I think, are really gearing up for.

“I don’t think it takes more than a night of being a driver for Uber and Lyft to realize that these services are definitely hurting, making congestion worse…”

I don’t think we’re quite there, but you can see that a lot of the moves they’re making. Congestion has been a big issue, though. Sort of getting back to your original question, congestion has been a big issue.

I don’t think it takes more than a night of being a driver for Uber and Lyft to realize that these services are definitely hurting, making congestion worse, as opposed to when Uber and Lyft first came on to the scene.

They actually told everyone they were making congestion better. They’d say, “Oh, we’re getting people out of their cars. We’re gonna get them in our cars and they’re gonna be sharing rides.” Oh, man. That was a bunch of total, you know, BS. I won’t swear on the podcast so you don’t have to edit it out, but their narrative was very different than the reality.

I think that’s what is cool about what I do, is that you really get this firsthand perspective from actually working for these services.

Ridesharing Causing More Traffic?

You see that, okay, I’m out here driving for Uber and Lyft. There’s nowhere to park downtown LA, downtown San Francisco. So when I’m waiting for a passenger, I am double parked or I’m in a red zone.

I’m basically causing traffic. When I drop off Tom, he doesn’t want to be dropped off half a block away. He wants to be dropped off right in front of the restaurant where there’s nowhere to park.

Okay, I need to quickly pull over here, and the cars behind me are beeping. I need to drop him off. That’s probably hurting congestion, and then, oh, I’m not getting a ride in this area, so I need to drive somewhere else.

“…I asked him why he was going such a short distance. He said, ‘Because it’s so cheap. Why not?'”

Oh, I pick up this other passenger, Jerry, and he’s going half a block. I ask him why. This is a true story. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but I picked up a passenger once-

Tom Smith: To drive half a block?

Harry Campbell: Half a block.

Tom Smith: Was he by himself?

Harry Campbell: By himself. I asked him why he was going such a short distance. He said, “Because it’s so cheap. Why not?”

Tom Smith: Wow.

Harry Campbell: It was a big block, but it was still half a block.

Tom Smith: Half a block. Was Jerry a large mammal?

Harry Campbell: No, he was a young guy, but … And that’s the thing, right? Because Uber is losing a ton of money. A lot of times, some of these, you know, they’ve continually lowered fares over the years, and there are some unintended consequences. If people are picking rideshare, taking Uber or Lyft, even an Uber Pool over other more eco-friendly modes of transportation, like biking or walking, that’s definitely gonna hurt congestion.

Filling an Unmet Need

I’m not an expert on the congestion side of things, or a transportation policy, or anything like that, but I am an expert in common sense and rideshare.

When I go out and drive and I see a lot of these stories continually happening or situations, I know for a fact that Uber and Lyft are making congestion worse. I don’t know how much they are because if you lived in LA before Uber and Lyft, there was plenty of traffic then.

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Harry Campbell: I mean, I guess you could say it’s gotten worse, but it’s-

Tom Smith: I mean, on the Friday and Saturday nights, we just switched cabs for Uber or Lyft, right?

“There were 13,000 taxi medallions in New York City before Uber and Lyft. That’s a fixed number. You can’t add or remove any.”

Harry Campbell: Well, no. I think actually, what’s interesting… New York City is a good case study because they actually… The companies are required to release data there.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: There were 13,000 taxi medallions in New York City before Uber and Lyft. That’s a fixed number. You can’t add or remove any.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: There’s still 13,000 today. Uber has added … If you want, we can do some trivia and I can ask you how many car … How many cars do you think Uber has added in five years in New York City?

Tom Smith: Oh my gosh. Well, it’s gotta be a moving target, right? ‘Cause people come and go.

Harry Campbell: Yeah. Well, I mean today, how many Uber cars do you think are there today?

Tom Smith: Let me… If we have 13,000 taxi medallions.

Harry Campbell: So how many Uber drivers do you think there are in New York City today?

Tom Smith: I think it’s exponentially more. I’m gonna give you a range. 85,000 to 130,000.

Taxi [medalions] to Rideshare Drivers

Harry Campbell: Close. There’s 60,000 Uber drivers, alone.

But there’s also, I believe, 20,000 or 30,000 Lyft drivers.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: And then there’s also another 10 or 15 Juno, Gett, Via-

Tom Smith: So, bam!

Harry Campbell: Right in your range.

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: That sort of shows you that, okay, Uber not only… There was a lot of untapped demand, really, right?

“I’ve taken passengers to doctor appointments, like very older passengers.”

I mean, a lot of people who weren’t going out to the bars or weren’t going out to dinner, and you can imagine that has huge positive impacts for people getting around. I’ve seen… Basically, to say, I’ve seen a lot of the positives and negatives, right?

I’ve taken passengers to doctor appointments, like very older passengers. I was thinking to myself, man, I wonder how this guy … He doesn’t have any family here. I wonder how he-

Tom Smith: I wonder how he pulls the app up and orders me.

Harry Campbell: Well, he told me his nephew installed it for him, but …

Tom Smith: Oh, okay.

Harry Campbell: I was thinking to myself, I wonder how he got to this place before. I mean, it’s a 30-minute drive. It would probably take over an hour on public transportation.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: I bet there are a lot of times where he probably didn’t go to his doctor. That seems like a bad idea when you’re getting up there in age. I’ve seen a lot of the positives. I think some of the numbers definitely show that, but as far as congestion, you can also see that sometimes there are … Too much of a good thing can be bad, for sure.

The Pros & Cons of Rideshare

Tom Smith: I wonder if, and feel free to chime in, I know I’m asking you questions that-

Harry Campbell: Hey, that’s what I’m here for, to answer whatever comes to your mind. You’re the boss.

Tom Smith: You have me on your podcast, and you can flip the script. I wonder if there is a balancing point where we get to a time where Uber and Lyft and the like do start to help, as opposed to hurt traffic congestion.

Harry Campbell: Yeah. I mean, I think that it’s gonna be tough because I think that right now, I don’t know that the right incentives are in place.

“…the incentives for Uber are to do as many rides as possible…”

I mean, the incentives for Uber are to do as many rides as possible, to make as… Well, I wouldn’t say to make as much money as possible. To do as much revenue per year as possible, whereas the incentives for congestion are almost gonna be the opposite, right?

I think you probably want to reduce the number of trips and get more people sharing in cars and things like that that get more people on public transportation ’cause obviously things like buses, and trains, and subways are a lot more efficient than one or two people in a single occupancy vehicle.

I’m not personally… I don’t really see a path where Uber and Lyft are gonna improve congestion, but I think that combined with sort of a smart and well laid out plan, I think that there are definitely… Basically, it’s gonna involve a lot of collaboration, right?

Uber and Lyft can definitely be a big part, probably, of the ecosystem, but I think what we’ve seen now… Uber and Lyft have basically just been left to do whatever the hell they want.

The Traffic Congestion Issue

They’ve provided some great benefit to society and consumers, but there’s no doubt that they’re hurting congestion.

I think that for example, maybe it’s a limit on just how little Uber can charge ’cause if you start to make people… Let’s say especially now when we’ve seen the rise of scooters and bikes, if you start sort of forcing people to say, hey, are you gonna take a $1 or $2 scooter ride, or are you gonna take a $10 Uber ride for this one-mile trip?

I bet a lot of people are gonna start… I mean, a lot of people already are taking scooters. But, I bet even more people would… When the financial aspect is there, a lot of people, I think, vote with their wallet.

“The final mile, the final mile, the solution to the final mile. Ah, the scooter.”

I think that’s what we’ve seen, and so I could definitely see that. That’s sort of where I see some smart regulation could really… If they kind of understand the system, they could come in and really, I guess, work with Uber and Lyft to help some of the congestion.

Tom Smith: Look. I haven’t ridden any of the scooters yet. I look forward to it, just ’cause I love riding stuff, right?

But it blows my mind that we’re trying… I’ve heard guys say, “The final mile, the final mile, the solution to the final mile. Ah, the scooter.” I’ve said this on numerous podcasts.

If you’ve heard me say it before, I apologize. I’m saying it again. I’m sorry. I thought obesity, and heart disease and diabetes were all really big issues in the United States. How about the final mile, we walk?

Laziness as an Economic Factor

Harry Campbell: I think that’s definitely… What I’ve learned, though, from being in this industry for close to five years, and talking to tens of thousands of drivers, and meeting with all these companies… One thing I think is interesting is really, you can’t always change consumer behavior.

If they don’t want to walk, they don’t want to walk, right? You can tell people not to smoke, not to drink, not to eat McDonald’s every day, but if they still are gonna do it, they’re gonna do it. Right?

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Harry Campbell: I think we’ve seen that. If you’re a student of history, you can look at things like prohibition. No matter how bad certain things are for you, sometimes people just say, “Whatever. I’m gonna do it, anyways.” And so I think if you understand that mentality of the consumer, you can really adapt it, right?

“You can tell people not to smoke, not to drink, not to eat McDonald’s every day, but if they still are gonna do it, they’re gonna do it.”

Let’s say we’re talking about your situation and you want to basically motivate people to walk, for example. I think if you have a public transportation system or you have that last mile that puts them in a place where, okay, you can either choose to do the one-mile walk on the sidewalks.

Or, we’ve got bike lanes for scooters sort of well put across the city, or if you want to take an Uber and you’re really lazy, you don’t even want a scooter, we’re gonna charge you for it. Maybe you kind of need to charge different prices.

I think that’s what a lot of the experts have to say, too, when it comes to congestion and they talk about the congestion pricing. Until we sort of wrap our heads around the financial aspect and people are motivated by money, money can change behavior, I guess you would say.

Both Sides of the Rideshare System

Tom Smith: Sure can.

Harry Campbell: A good example of that, I think, is my experience with Uber Pool. Uber Pool is a product that most drivers hate, to put it mildly.

Tom Smith: Really?

Harry Campbell: Yeah, because as a driver, the most challenging part of the ride-

Tom Smith: You’re working more and getting paid less.

Harry Campbell: Exactly, is the… The challenging part of being a driver is picking up and dropping off. Driving 45 miles an hour down the street is easy, right?

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: But, when you have two passengers you need to pick up. They’re not ready on time, they’re not in where they say they are. One of them is drunk, all that crap you have to deal with as a driver, and then they want to get dropped off somewhere illegally, and you have to not get a ticket.

“Uber Pool is a product that most drivers hate, to put it mildly.”

Okay. It’s not the toughest thing in the world, but it’s more work. It feels like more work as a driver. You actually get paid less.

Tom Smith: No, it sounds like more work, too.

Harry Campbell: Yeah. I mean, it is. You get two people that rate you, so now you have to keep two people happy or two groups of people happy instead of one. And you actually get paid less as a driver for Uber Pool than you do for UberX. So, so there’s a lower per mile and per minute rate. You-

Tom Smith: Can’t you, as a driver, just choose not to do Uber Pool when you see a Pool come up?

Harry Campbell: You can.

Tom Smith: Can you just say I don’t want to take it?

Harry Campbell: Yeah, and I actually recommend that to a lot of drivers. You can ignore requests.

How Come I’m Not Getting Picked Up?

When you see an Uber Pool come up, you can ignore it, but again, these companies are pretty smart, and so what they’ve done is they’ve tied their bonus program, so they’re weekly bonuses that you get on top of your earnings. It’s-

Tom Smith: Yeah. That’s a number of Pools.

Harry Campbell: It’s a trip-based bonus, and they count Uber Pool. Each passenger counts as a single trip.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: Two Uber Pool passengers does count as two people or two trips …

Tom Smith: Got it.

Harry Campbell: Which helps you get your bonus faster, which is basically the same thing as just paying you more, which is what they should’ve done in the first place.

“Oh, can you not pick them up? I’m kind of running late.” I think to myself, dude, you called an Uber Pool.”

They have this really convoluted system to get drivers to do Uber Pool. But, the point is, I’m not even convinced that Uber Pool passengers like the service. The reason I say that is because I think people gravitate towards the cheapest option.

When you open the Uber app, you see UberX and you always see a cheaper price for Uber Pool since you’re sharing a ride.

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: I think a lot of people just default to that Uber Pool. I mean, they may know what it is or they may not know what it is, but I know a lot of people default to that.

I’ve had passengers on the way to the airport, an Uber Pool passenger with their bags, luggage, and they’re the first passenger in. Then we get a match with a second passenger, and they say, “Oh, can you not pick them up? I’m kind of running late.” I think to myself, dude, you called an Uber Pool.

Tom Smith: Yeah, wait a minute.

Drivers Dealing with Issues

Harry Campbell: You’re supposed to share a ride. You probably should’ve called an UberX if you’re going to the airport.

Tom Smith: How do you handle that at that point?

Harry Campbell: I mean, so that’s really kind of what my whole business is about. Now, you have one passenger who is potentially gonna be late for-

Tom Smith: Miss my flight, cost me hundreds of dollars.

Harry Campbell: Missed their flight… hundreds of dollars. They were trying to be cheap and save, probably $4.

Tom Smith: Right.

“I usually sort of try to de-escalate the situation or honestly sometimes shift the blame to Uber a little bit.”

Harry Campbell: And so typically, what I tell them is, “Oh, you know what? Unfortunately, I would love to do that, but Uber will ding me if I don’t take this second passenger.”

It’s not really true, but that’s sort of what I usually sort of try to de-escalate the situation or honestly sometimes shift the blame to Uber a little bit.

Usually, it is their fault, but that’s sort of how I would handle that as a driver, say, “Oh, I would love to do that, myself. If it was just you and I, I would do that, but Uber has already given me this next rider. At this point, I can’t cancel on them because then it would affect my rating and my earnings with Uber.”

At that point, I don’t know. Some passengers are gonna just be unreasonable, but I think when you kind of explain it in those types of terms, you usually avoid most issues with passengers.

Tom Smith: All right. Well, Harry, this has been a lot of fun. Before we wrap it up, I have one… And I want to do this again with you for sure.

Harry Campbell: Sure.

Tom Smith: Actually, I think this has been one of my longest podcasts.

Daily Rides – Uber vs. Lyft

Harry Campbell: Oh, really? All right.

Tom Smith: But, look, it’s a big part of mobility. It’s a big piece of the equation. We’re all gonna be driving cars for a long time yet.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: Before we’re taking our flying cars or perhaps our flying driverless Ubers.

Harry Campbell: Yep.

Tom Smith: But, I am sure you have some pretty crazy stories. What is the craziest story as an Uber or a Lyft driver that you can share here?

Harry Campbell: Well-

Tom Smith: Let’s make sure that it’s one with a happy ending.

“Uber is pretty dominant… remember, they’re all around the world, whereas Lyft is only in the US and a couple of cities in Canada.”

Harry Campbell: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tom Smith: ‘Cause I would assume there’s some that are-

Harry Campbell: Yeah. I haven’t had any with a bad ending, but I definitely have some that are probably more on the rated R version.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: I don’t know if those are appropriate. I think-

Tom Smith: Yeah, we’re a family-friendly podcast.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, I think we’ll keep it family-friendly. I’ve got plenty of family-friendly stories, weird stories. I think that’s actually the best way to describe it. Uber is doing millions of rides a day, and so of course-

Tom Smith: 15-million, right?

Harry Campbell: 15-million-

Tom Smith: How many… Sorry. How many is Lyft doing?

Harry Campbell: I’m not sure off the top of my head, but I believe it’s about seven or eight times less. I think they’re more-

Tom Smith: Wow.

Harry Campbell: Two million.

Tom Smith: Seven or eight times less?

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: I mean, Uber is pretty dominant. Also, remember, though, they’re all around the world, whereas Lyft is only in the US and a couple of cities in Canada.

Tom Smith: Gotcha, okay, so sorry, to be continued on another podcast, the craziest story.

You’re On-Camera

Harry Campbell: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The rated R one, maybe, I would say I wish I had a book or something that told them all ’cause then I could tell people to go buy my book. I don’t, I have a book, but it doesn’t have rated R stories.

I would say, but, what I was talking about is basically there are a lot of… A lot of people are drinking, and so there are some interesting things that happen.

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: For sure, but I’ve never had a situation where I felt unsafe, or in danger, or anything like that. I mean, I have a dash cam in my car. I-

Tom Smith: So, you record everything?

Harry Campbell: I record everything. That typically-

“You guys are on camera, just FYI.”

Tom Smith: As a safety measure or to look back on and laugh?

Harry Campbell: Insurance, but also… No, insurance, but also just you never know, right?

Tom Smith: Sure.

Harry Campbell: I think of it as a very cheap insurance policy.

Tom Smith: I would do it.

Harry Campbell: I have found that it also prevents a lot of bad passenger behavior, right?

Tom Smith: Oh, yeah.

Harry Campbell: When people see a little green blinking light, or if people are starting to get out of hand, I mention, “Hey, just if you guys can cool it out.” If I need to get in an argument with someone, I say, “You guys are on camera, just FYI.” You do have to follow all the legal rules to be able to video and record audio, but basically, my weirdest story would probably be when I first started driving for Uber and Lyft.

Confessions of a Rideshare Driver

I was in Newport Beach. I was living in Newport Beach at the time, which is sort of a little party area. It’s a nice area, but there’s also a nice strip of bars and…

Tom Smith: Has its rowdy set.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, it has its rowdy side, so let me preface a story with that. I typically used to drive, since I was working at Boeing during the day, I would drive Friday, Saturday nights, usually.

That’s also where you can make the most amount of money. It was at the end of the night. I’m pretty sure this was a dare or something like that because I had a guy get into my car and basically when I looked… We were at a stop light.

“I looked back and this guy was, like, taking all his clothes off.”

I looked back and this guy was, like, taking all his clothes off. I mean, he wasn’t blacked out drunk, but he had been drinking, for sure.

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: He was taking all his clothes off. He got into his underwear, luckily not naked, and basically ran around the car and then got back into his seat and acted like nothing had happened. I didn’t even ask him anything. I just kind of looked-

Tom Smith: You just carried on.

Harry Campbell: I was like, okay, that was weird. It was a long stop light, obviously.

Tom Smith: Right.

Harry Campbell: That’s why I think it was a dare ’cause I dropped him off, like, right down the block. We kind of just looked at each other. I said, “All right, have a good night.” Yeah, so quite a few of those types of stories.

Tom Smith: Okay.

Harry Campbell: Alcohol, clearly, a factor.

Tom Smith: Yeah.

Harry Campbell: And maybe a lost bet or two.

The Rideshare Guy’s Guide

Tom Smith: Yeah, yeah, sounds like it. All right, well, very good. Harry Campbell, The Rideshare Guy. You know what? You mentioned wanting to give away a couple of [The Rideshare Guide] books.

Harry Campbell: Yeah.

Tom Smith: If you want to do that, we’ll do it.

Harry Campbell: Okay, cool. Yeah, I’ve got a couple books that I can hand over to you right now. However, I guess, you want to have people enter, they can do so.

The Ride Share Guy autograph signing

The Ride Share Guy – autographing my Guide

Tom Smith: You know what? Just email me, tom [at] drivesocal [dot] com, tom [at] idrivesocal [dot] com.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, maybe they can give you their best rideshare story. Make them work a little for it.

Tom Smith: Yeah, okay, there you go. As Harry requested, the best rideshare story. Email me. Let’s see. How am I gonna do this, though? Because that’s a podcast, and this thing is gonna be recorded forever, so…

Harry Campbell: First two people to email you.

Tom Smith: Yeah, there you go, first two people. There you have it. Today is … Well, we’re gonna post this in the next few days. I don’t know. Email me. I’ll either email you back and say, “Sorry, you missed it.” Or, I’ll email you back and ask for your mailing address, and we’ll send you out a book, and Harry will sign them.

More from Harry “TRSG” Campbell

Harry Campbell: Perfect.

Tom Smith: Fantastic. Harry Campbell, The Rideshare Guy, TheRideshareGuy.com, The Rideshare Guy Podcast, The Rideshare Guy YouTube channel, and the occasional driver for Uber and Lyft. Maybe you’ll wind up getting driven around by Harry one night.

Harry Campbell: Yeah, no. If you’re in the LA area, you might get me one night, and I’m still active driving. Yeah, basically, if you type The Rideshare Guy into any search box out there, we do have a podcast if you’re interested in the rideshare and mobility industry.

“If you’re in the LA area, you might get me one night, and I’m still active driving.”

You can check that out. We interview everyone from drivers to CEOs and people in the industry, reporters, and yeah, got a new book out, but other than that, lots of good content coming down the pipe. So if anyone is curious in learning more, happy to help out and chat about it.

Tom Smith: Awesome. Harry Campbell, The Rideshare Guy, thank you so much. We will do this again for iDriveSoCal. I am Tom Smith. Thank you, as always, for tuning in.