Uber drivers in Eagle County are among the highest-paid in the country
Uber rates around Vail in winter are comparable to those in California wine country in the summertime
The online ride-hailing industry is no exception to local workforce shortages. With ski season inflating demand for services like Uber, workers in these roles reap lucrative rewards for carrying industry burdens.
Uber’s competitive pay matches the local demand for drivers, said Harry Hartfield, an Uber spokesperson.
“Vail came out — in the winter months — as one of the highest gross markets for drivers in the entire country,” Hartfield said.
Within Vail and its surrounding communities, drivers make an average of $40 an hour in utilized time. Utilized time accounts for when drivers are on a trip with a customer, Hartfield explained.
With hubs of activity around ski areas, Hartfield said many people who plan to visit the valley often don’t rent a car. Additionally, demand spikes with more nightlife.
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“After a long day of skiing, you go out and have a couple beers with your friends,” Hartfield said. “You shouldn’t be getting in a car and driving back to the hotel. We want to make sure you have a safe ride home.”
Hartfield said that Uber rates around Vail in winter are comparable to those in California wine country in the summertime.
This year, however, driver income is even more exaggerated.
“We’re seeing a ton of people in these ski resorts, and we still don’t have as many drivers on the road as we used to have,” Hartfield said.
Workforce stressors following the onset of COVID-19 haven’t yet eased, Hartfield explained. That means Uber users around Vail experience longer wait times and more expensive rides than normal.
However, for those driving with Uber, what once might have started a side hustle for extra cash became a much more lucrative position. Full-time or not, Hartfield said that drivers in Vail make good money, which can help offset the higher cost of living compared to more metropolitan areas with more drivers available for services like Uber or Lyft.
“We definitely want people in the community to know this can be a really good way to supplement your income, especially during ski season,” Hartfield said.
Most drivers on Uber are only driving a couple of hours a week to make extra money on the side, Hartfield said. Operating on their own schedules, drivers are also often incentivized by the platform to drive more.
“For drivers who drive a lot, we actually have a benefit where if you qualify, you can get a free college degree from Arizona State University,” Hartfield said, noting that several local drivers have taken advantage of this benefit.
By driving visitors and community members from point A to point B, Hartfield said online ride-hail drivers are providing an important service to the community, especially when supply is limited.