A Day in the Life of a Boston Uber Driver

Before he started driving for Uber and Lyft, Jesus Rosa, 50, unexpectedly lost his job as sales director for a national floral company.

“I made myself redundant,” says Rosa, who holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and lives in Boston with his wife, and sons who are 8 and 12 years old. “Still, I didn’t see it coming.” He cites the rapidly evolving world of ecommerce as well as efficiencies in transportation for being downsized.

Determined to exercise his entrepreneurial spirit, he joined the gig economy, and began using his personal car for rideshare driving. Things were looking up until a drunk driver ran a red light and plowed into the side of his car, sending him to the emergency room with minor injuries and leaving his car in disrepair.

“I never saw him coming,” he says, acknowledging that for the second time in 2017, he would be blindsided by events that would test his resiliency.  “I woke up in the emergency room with no car, and I realized, I’m back at square one.”

Fortunate for Rosa, and others who prefer the freedom of the gig economy, he could still earn by renting a car with unlimited miles that could also be used to apply to drive for any rideshare or delivery platform

As a rideshare driver, Rosa averages $25-30 an hour, preferring to work in the evenings. In addition to Uber and Lyft, he also wants to drive for DoorDash and Uber Eats. He has a relationship with Cargo to provide complimentary snacks to his riders.

The margins work for him, in part, because in addition to the unlimited miles, the Chevrolet Bolt EV he rents comes with unlimited charging, insurance (less a $1000 deductible), maintenance, and the flexibility to use for his personal needs.

“When you factor in all the costs of car ownerships and the massive depreciation,” says Rosa who can easily drive 1000 miles a week, “this is a very economical alternative.”

In addition to making a living, Rosa sees this gig as an innovative way to network with other drivers and his riders.  He rents the Bolt EV because it’s a natural conversation starter. For many of his riders, it’s the first time any of them have been inside an electric car.

“I must have sold 4 or 5 EVs in the last year,” he says laughing, “because sometimes I go to the charging station and I see an old passenger of mine charging their new car.”

Beyond selling EVs, Rosa has other fun stories from on the road. There was the quiet Russian man in 70s who he picked from the airport. A former engineer for the Soviet space program during the space race, he had been forbidden to visit the U.S. Then years after he retired, he was allowed to travel and realize his lifelong dream of visiting MIT.

Then there was the 50-year-old woman he picked up from a hotel who was crying because she had just met her brother for the first time. Their mother had given the brother up for adoption and never told her. The brother found his sister after the mother died. He had two kids, which made her an aunt. She hadn’t had children, but always wanted them, so in a way she gained the family she never thought she’d have.

For all the people Rosa meets and gets to know there’s also a large contingency of people prefer to be left alone.

“You can’t do the same thing for every passenger,” he says. “You have to be sensitive enough to know what the situation is. Respect the passenger and their needs, and everything will take care of itself.”