Uber Eats bike delivery — break-even time in downtown Toronto

I have not been able to find another job, I love cycling, and I know the city — so I have been trying out working as food delivery rider for uber.

The lesson from 19.5 hours in is that it pays far below miniumum wage, even before considering any expenses.

At JJ International Inc at 438 Spadina I bought a large two-shelf insulated backpack for food deliveries for $84.76.

Since my total revenues, revenues per hour, revenues per delivery, and revenues per kilometre were all dismal in the first few days, I took a Smart Serve course in order to be able to carry deliveries with alcohol. The course took about 3 hours and cost $44.95.

Just now, I had to take a break from a Saturday night shift to go home because all my external phone batteries are dead.

In sum, so far:

  • I have been online for 19 hours and 18 minutes.
  • I have ridden 153 km.
  • I have earned $150.04 ($116.55 in fares and $34.39 in tips).
  • That works out to about $7.69 per hour, which is a considerable over-statement because it doesn’t count the riding time required to get into the high density zones with many restaurants or to ride back home.
  • It took basically 17 hours of work to pay for the carrier bag and Smart Serve certificate.

All told, a person would be far better off working at the Ontario minumum wage of $16.55 than doing deliveries for uber eats by bike.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

9 thoughts on “Uber Eats bike delivery — break-even time in downtown Toronto”

  1. “Uber relies on oversupplying the market with drivers. It does so to reduce pick-up times and wages. This reckless oversupply of drivers is essential for the company. Driver oversupply ensures customer pick-up times remain low, but the burden of maintaining these rapid response times is shouldered by precarious drivers who spend much of their time “deadheading” or driving empty and “unengaged” as they compete with other drivers.

    City data shows drivers spend 48 per cent of their time deadheading, and Uber states that drivers earn $32/hour of “engaged” time, meaning drivers get paid about $16 for an actual hour of work. When you factor in gas, insurance and wear and tear, drivers are left with $7.90/hour at day’s end, way below minimum wage.”


  2. A study conducted in late 2022 by New York’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection found that food delivery workers at Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Relay earn an average of US$14.18 an hour, split evenly between pay and tips. The study also found that, on average, base pay per delivery declined by 23 per cent between the first quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2022.

    “We now have data demonstrating that the app companies pay the delivery workers about half of what they receive, and keep the other half for themselves. They can do that because they know that consumers using these delivery services are very generous with tips,” explained James Parrott, the director of economic and fiscal policy studies at the New School, a private research university in New York.

    Indeed, using weekly aggregate data obtained from four delivery apps, the DCWP report breaks down this equation. For a food order of US$33.09, including a tip of US$4.11, the app will receive a total of US$8.54 (fees charged to the consumer plus the app’s share of order subtotal). Of that amount, US$4.32 will be paid out to the worker, while the company’s gross margin for that order will be US$4.22. In effect, a customer’s tip almost completely subsidizes the worker’s wage.


  3. That’s only 7.8 km/hr. You would need to know the breakdown of time spent moving versus dealing with restaurants and customers to work out if an e-bike would speed things up enough to be worth the costs.

  4. But if we accept DoorDash’s terms, the tip is a bid, part of a negotiation for this person’s services. To be fair to DoorDash, it is merely saying the quiet part out loud. We know that couriers can be enticed to accept a delivery based on the proposed tip (unfortunately making them vulnerable to “tip baiting,” in which customers rescind a tip or lower its amount on food delivery apps after delivery).

    But it’s another matter for DoorDash to state this explicitly in an attempt to persuade customers to tip more. The language here seems intent on pushing the platform as a tool for customers to negotiate service fees from its “independent contractors” while still using a term such as “tips” in a context that bears little relation to how most restaurant customers view the term.


  5. For years, tech companies, under pressure from investors, have been decreasing how much they pay the people who deliver those dumplings to your door. When I was a courier, that meant base rates as pitiful as $2 an order – which puts pressure on the roughly 60,000 deliveristas in New York City, the vast majority of them immigrant people of color, to ride faster and harder. But with 33 delivery workers killed on the job in the last three years alone, according to the city’s department of consumer and worker protection (DCWP), delivery work has become one of the deadliest jobs in New York City. A 2017 survey by the Biking Public Project found that 62% of New York City delivery workers reported being in a collision with a motor vehicle at least once, and 30% had missed work from injuries in the previous year.


  6. While customers find themselves paying $9-plus service fees on a delivery order, the worker handing you the food might only get a few dollars, all while paying for their own vehicle and fuel.

    Wolfe recalls how paltry some of the payouts were before the Seattle wage law, when she would see $2 to $3 for an order before tips. In May 2022, Working Washington aggregated data from over 400 delivery jobs in the Seattle area and found that restaurant delivery workers were making on average $8.71 per hour after deducting basic expenses such as gas, which was far below the city’s 2022 minimum hourly wage of $17.27. During a Working Washington protest at City Hall in 2022, paper bags with receipts showing how much a worker had made on a delivery order were put on display.

    “There were quite a few that were negative,” says Wolfe. “Once you figured expenses and all that, you were basically paying them to deliver.”


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