Uber, Lyft Drivers Struggle With High Gas Prices

When Adam Potash started driving for the elevator six months ago, he was happy with the salary. The business wasn’t very lucrative, but he was earning about $ 200 a day before paying for gas and car maintenance.

But as gas prices have risen in recent weeks, Mr. Potash is barely breaking down. To compensate, he focused on driving during peak customer hours and tried to fill up on cheap gas stations in the area around San Francisco where he works. He has also reduced his driving time from about 45 hours per week to about 20 hours.

“Heartbreaking. I don’t have money,” Mr. Potash, 48, said of his reduced hours. “But I’m not willing to work at a loss.”

Gig workers driving for ride-hailing and delivery companies such as Uber, Lift and Dordash have been hit hard by rising gas prices, as their ability to make money is directly linked to driving hundreds of miles per week. And because drivers are contract workers, companies do not reimburse them for fuel costs.

Some drivers say they have enough, and the extra cost of gas is destabilizing an already difficult financial equation. According to AAA, the national average price of a gallon of gas reached a record high of $ 4.33 last week. In California, where Mr. Potash remains, gas is now averaging 5.77 per gallon.

“The high price of gas is the ultimate nail in the coffin,” said Harry Campbell, author of a blog called Rideshare Guy and a podcast aimed at helping ride-hauling drivers. “Rising gas prices make the situation even tougher, and for many drivers it’s the ultimate straw that pushes them to the edge.”

In a survey of 325 drivers following its content last week, Mr. Campbell found that 38 percent were driving less because of higher gas prices and 15 percent had stopped driving altogether.

Some drivers across the country boycotted ride-hailing apps on Thursday, although it was difficult to say exactly how many took part. An initially planned effort to raise awareness about driver safety has led to widespread frustration over how high gas prices are making difficult business more difficult.

“We started planning about poor safety months ago, and when gas prices skyrocketed, many drivers said, ‘We need to stand up and get companies involved in both,'” said Torsten Cunert, who advises drivers. Is. On his YouTube channel, Rideshare Professor.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash say overall driver numbers are not low. Uber said it now has more active drivers than in January. Both Uber and Lyft have added small fees to the cost of rides in most locations for the next two months, which they say will help compensate drivers for the change.

“We are aware that drivers and couriers are experiencing record-high prices at the pump,” Lisa Winship, head of driver operations for Uber in the United States and Canada, said in a statement announcing the gas surcharge. Lift echoed that sentiment in a blog post Monday.

DoorDash announced the gas awards program on Tuesday. Those who use a prepaid debit card designed for DoorDash workers will get 10 percent cashback at gas stations, the company said, adding that DoorDash is adding bonus payments based on running miles. Gruhub also said it would increase the driver’s salary.

Both Uber and Lift say that despite being responsible for rising gas prices, drivers are still making more money after removing lockdowns than before the epidemic. And both companies are promoting partnerships with an app called GetUpside that offers some cash back rewards for getting gas.

Gridwise, an app that helps drivers track their earnings and talisman data, found that drivers’ earnings have increased nationally in recent months, from an average of $ 308 per week in early January to $ 426 in early March. But the cost of gas for ride-hauling drivers has also risen, from $ 31 per transaction to about $ 39 over the same period.

Uber and Lift say their new gas fees – 35 to 55 cents per trip for Uber and 55 cents for lifts – will go to drivers. But some drivers say the action is inadequate. According to the AAA, gas prices have risen by an average of 49 per cent in the last year.

“It insults literally every driver, and that was their first communication since gas prices were going up,” said Philippe Gin, a Coopersburg, Uber and lift driver in Palm.

Jennifer Montgomery, an UberEats driver in Las Vegas, where gas costs $ 5 per gallon, agrees that gas fees “don’t even put a dent” in the price of fuel, which is at least $ 30 more per day for her. Began to increase.

Ms. Montgomery, 40, said she was obsessed with her job, and was looking for another job that didn’t require her to drive. She has cut her six-hour, daily shift in half, because “it’s not really a profit anymore.”

“I don’t want to deliver anymore,” she said. “Especially when you have bills to pay and rent and mortgages, the rising cost of groceries – it affects everything.”

Mr. Jean drives mostly for Uber and lifts in the winter and spring, while his work as a handyman slows down. He said he enjoys interacting with passengers and usually earns $ 300 to $ 400 a week, of which about $ 60 goes to fill his tank.

Recently, however, Mr. Jean is paying double for gas, and has had to cut elsewhere to compensate – including reducing his car insurance coverage.

“I am driving Uber now in the hope that an accident will not happen, because if I do, I will lose my car completely,” he said.

In fact gas price problems caused Mr. Jean to drive more in the short term, because people who get less gas mileage have told him that they have stopped driving. With his hybrid Toyota Prius, he thought he would be able to take some of his business faster and still make some money. But Mr. Ginn said that due to the high gas prices, he will leave Uber completely in the spring when his handyman resumes work.

He questioned whether he or the other drivers were making any profit from the ride-hailing business after all the costs involved.

“I personally think that if I sit down and do the numbers, it will be a break-even,” Mr. Gin said. “I don’t think we’re making money on it now. I think I’m afraid to accept it myself, because then I will definitely stop doing it. “

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