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Uber’s growth revolutionizing rider services

Every day, millions of Americans hop in their cars to get to work. But in light of the wages UberX drivers are making, the average American could probably make more money by staying in his or her car all day, driving for the popular ride service.

A major shift is underway on America’s roadways. For a long time, driving strangers from point A to point B paid terribly. Estimates of the typical cab driver’s salary hover around $30,000.

According to Uber, the median wage for an UberX driver working at least 40 hours a week in New York City is $90,766 a year. In San Francisco, the median wage for an UberX driver working at least 40 hours a week is $74,191.

The gap in compensation for providing similar services is astounding and illuminates the power of Uber, which is using its mastery of technology to steadily disrupt the traditional cab industry. Worldwide, 20,000 new drivers a month have joined Uber’s platform in 2014.

“New people are flocking to Uber in part due to the money that they can make and due to the flexibility you have, basically being able to decide when you want and where you want to work,” said Rachel Holt, Uber’s regional general manager for the East.

Unlike traditional cab companies, Uber capitalized on the rise of smartphones to better serve customers.

It has created a more efficient marketplace for connecting those who want to get a ride and those offering rides. Uber drivers don’t need to waste time circling blocks, hoping to be in the same place as someone who wants a ride. Less downtime means more fares and more money.

“When I talk to Washington, D.C., drivers they’d say, ‘I never knew there were so many people who wanted a ride on 13th street,’ ” Holt said.

Uber has not revealed the median income for UberX drivers in Washington, or participating cities overall.

Uber’s app connects its network of drivers with users who are in search of a ride. The company takes a 20 percent cut of the fare.

In an Uber-enabled world, every street corner becomes a virtual cab stand. Since being founded in 2009, Uber has expanded to 60 cities in the United States and says it can deliver a ride to 43 percent of Americans within five minutes. An ECONorthwest study Uber commissioned found that the company has a $2.8 billion-a-year impact on the U.S. economy, through direct, indirect and induced means.

To grow so significantly, the company has brought hundreds of thousands of drivers on board.