Uber and the morning school run

RIDE SHARE: Since starting as an Uber driver in May, Lisa Sheedy has driven as often as six nights a week and picked up more than 1000 passengers. Picture: Sylvia Liber
RIDE SHARE: Since starting as an Uber driver in May, Lisa Sheedy has driven as often as six nights a week and picked up more than 1000 passengers. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Since she started as a Uber driver five months ago, Lisa Sheedy has had to balance the late nights with the school drop-offs in the morning.

Ms Sheedy – one of the highest-rated drivers in the Illawarra, with a rider rating of 4.95 out of five – drives as many as six nights a week.

Sometimes she’s out as late as 3am because it's at night when business is best for an Uber driver.

“It’s governed by how I feel,” Ms Sheedy said of her hours.

“I like to stay out late to help get the kids home but if I’m feeling tired, I’ll just go home.”

But with two school-aged children at home it can make for some tricky mornings.

“It’s actually really good – my husband used to to work in Sydney but he works in Wollongong now,” she said.

“I only work at night and he lets me sleep in a bit, so he just has to help get them ready for school in the morning. So that’s working well.”

Uber launched in Wollongong on March 16 and last Saturday marked its first six months in the city.

Ms Sheedy joined Uber a month after it launched, with a view to earning some extra money “without committing to a full-time daytime job”.

Since then she’s made more than 1000 trips and said she hasn’t had one bad experience.

“Everyone’s been very friendly, very grateful, very respectful of the car and me as well,” Ms Sheedy said.

“They’re really good, even though as you can imagine at that time of night I’m picking up people that are already drunk.

“That hasn’t made a difference, they’re all very, very nice people.”

She’s even managed to avoid the nightmare of a passenger being sick in her car.

“I carry plastic bags around just in case,” she said.

“There have been a few times where I’ve had to pull over but not in the car, I haven’t had any problems in the car. It is something that’s on my mind, I keep an eye on the people.

“If I see someone who looks a bit seedy, I’ll ask them if they’re okay, and if I have to pull over I will. But that doesn’t happen very often.”

She said the bulk of her passengers have been university students or young people going out at night

She also had older passengers using Uber as well while going out for dinner.

In terms of the hotspots, she said Pepe’s on the Beach at North Wollongong on Mondays and Hotel Illawarra on Thursdays were popular for pick-ups and drop-offs.

SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT FOR DRIVING

The busiest night for an Uber driver in Wollongong probably won't come as a surprise.

But the most popular drop-off points might.

Uber started in the Illawarra six months ago last Saturday and around 30,000 different people have taken a ride since then.

Uber said there were around 150 drivers in the Illawarra, with more than half choosing to drive less than 15 hours a week.

The busiest hour in the week isn’t surprising – it’s 10-11pm on Saturday when people are out and about.

When it comes to the top drop-off points in the first six months, it’s not nightclubs or pubs that dominate the list.

Instead, it’s train stations and university campuses.

The University of Wollongong was ranked first, followed by Wollongong and North Wollongong train stations and then Campus East.

The Towradgi Beach Hotel and the Novotel Northbeach rounded out the list.

An Uber spokesman said train stations featured highly because people chose to use public transport for part of their journey.

This story Uber and the morning school run first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.