Brooklyn Boro

VIDEO: Brooklyn Uber driver-partners complete nearly 7M trips

May 22, 2015 By Dipti Kumar Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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How many cab rides have you had in New York City during which a woman is behind the wheel?

According to a report by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the taxi industry in New York has 49,500 male yellow taxi drivers and just 536 female drivers.

But at a recent Uber celebration held in DUMBO for Brooklyn driver partners, women were plentiful. The first of its kind, the event acknowledged the support of more than 5,000 Brooklyn drivers who have “completed nearly 7 million trips,” according to Uber.

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Luisa Martir, a single mother of three from East New York, said she enjoys the “freedom” she has in this job. The former real estate agent of 10 years quit her job to become a driver partner in 2014.  

“For me, when I drive, I feel free. The thing that I like the most is never knowing where I’m going to end. I just go wherever the client wants,” said Martir, who begins her shift at 7:30 a.m. daily.

A ride in her car is more than just a pickup and drop off. With a selection of karaoke CDs, Martir is an avid singer and likes to entertain her passengers. She even offered the Brooklyn Daily Eagle a sample of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.”

The buzzword at the Uber celebration was “flexibility.” The driver partners vouched for flexibility in their jobs, and those who formerly worked in IT, healthcare, fashion and driving trucks expressed a sense of satisfaction in their position with Uber.

Bienvenu Houenou, a Flatbush resident, worked as a truck driver for five years before joining Uber in 2014. “It’s not like driving a truck everywhere, eating junk food, no shower, sleeping in the truck,” he said.

City Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy, who attended the event, commended the work done by Uber.  

“I’ve heard Uber drivers talk about flexibility, their scheduling … they manage things at home and [get to] be involved with their children,” said Cornegy, who has six children of his own. “I know how important it is to be involved with your children.”  

Uber General Manager Josh Mohrer also highlighted the company’s efforts to support local businesses in the borough. Red Hook — where subway stations are about a mile apart — has experienced a prevalent Uber presence with nearly 2,000 rides taking place in the neighborhood. 

“If there’s 1 in 3 Uber trips that starts and ends at a small business, Uber is not only supporting the residents, but also the businesses in the communities that we serve,” said Mohrer.

Paying it Forward

Uber’s success comes largely from word-of-mouth, the drivers described. Muri Aileru from East New York lost his job as a home health aide in 2014 after making a trip back to his home in Nigeria. A friend who worked with Uber suggested Aileru get his TLC license and try Uber.

“I’ve been working with Uber ever since, and have no cause to regret,” said Aileru, who is also studying Pharmacy.  

Aileru recommended his friend Morenikeji Ogunlade to Uber when she was reconsidering her job as a technical designer in 2014. Ogunlade, another female driver, is amused by how people respond to her.

“They get excited. A lot of people are like, ‘Oh my God, you’re my first female Uber driver. I don’t get to see so many females, I like your car, it smells good, you drive gentle,’” said Ogunlade.

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