The bullish transportation company Uber, darling of the “sharing” economy sweeping Silicon Valley, threw a party recently to commemorate completing one million trips in Orlando, but not everyone was celebrating. The Uber manager for Florida, Matt Gore, boasted to partygoers that the one million trips earned drivers some $10 million in income, an impressive sum until you do the quick back-of-the-envelope math and realize that Gore is bragging about his drivers-who-aren’t-employees earning a ten-spot for driving someone around Orlando.
Many people in Orlando, however, see nothing to celebrate. Uber is still entangled in an ongoing lawsuit involving the Orlando International Airport, that wants to keep Uber drivers off the premises and make the Silicon Valley darling cough up $150,000 in damages. The lawsuit began before the city’s recent change to local ordinances, which added steep fines for drivers wanting to eke out a living working for Uber. Although Uber vowed to step in and pay any city fines levied on “its” drivers, that particular premise has yet to be tested.
Even Uber drivers who attended the company’s recent one-million-ride party admitted that they sometimes feel underpaid, and chafed at Uber’s strict policy of forbidding drivers from accepting tips. Gore begrudgingly admitted that there was nothing the company could do from stopping drivers from receiving tips in cash, but there are no current plans to modify the app to allow tips from credit or debit cards.
In other news, many residents of Orlando are gearing up for a little competition from an unexpected quarter. For a long time, Seminole County was considered a separate entity from Orlando, a place where ambitious people would buy houses in the right areas to send their kids to good schools while enjoying beautiful green spaces and nature trails during family’s free time. Seminole County is a beautiful place, but it isn’t Orlando. Except that if a new measure by the Seminal County Commission is adopted, the county will begin referring to itself as “Orlando North” in advertising and tourism campaigns.
Joe Abel, the head of the county’s Leisure Services Department, openly admitted that many of his colleagues around the country have no idea where Seminole County is, but they do know about Orlando. The county decided to consider the name-changing measure when a research firm discovered, unsurprisingly, that millions of people search for “Orlando” on online search engines when decided to plan a vacation.