Need an Uber or Lyft? Here’s why you should expect to pay more — and wait longer

·3 min read

If you want to take an Uber or Lyft you may end up paying more — and waiting longer for a ride.

It comes at a time when rideshare drivers in the Southeast are facing higher gas prices and longer waits at the pump.

Even before panic-buying led to gas shortages, Uber and Lyft told news outlets they were trying to keep up with customer demand. Here’s what we know about the growing costs and challenges to find a ride.

Rising costs for riders

Prices and wait times for rideshares have increased in recent weeks as the companies search for additional drivers to help meet rising requests for rides, multiple news outlets reported.

Uber and Lyft didn’t respond to McClatchy News’ requests for comment on Thursday.

But Uber on its website said it often introduces “surge pricing” at high-demand times.

“A spokesperson for Uber said there aren’t enough drivers to meet the increased demand of ride requests,” WNCN reported Wednesday. “Some are reluctant to return, others are on unemployment.”

And Lyft acknowledged recent price increases when it said it was “providing incentives to drivers, who are busier and earning more than they were even before the pandemic,” KABC reported last week.

Last year, COVID-19 halted travel as well as everyday activities for many Americans. As more of the nation opens up, riders could continue to wait longer for rideshares because concerns about pay and family needs are keeping some drivers from going back, according to Boston Magazine.

“My mom and my dad both are high risk for contracting COVID,” Beth Griffith, a former rideshare driver and executive director of the Boston Independent Drivers Guild, told the magazine. “I just wasn’t prepared to put my family at risk. It just wasn’t worth it.”

Some social media users noticed the rising prices for rides were hitting the rideshare services just as some U.S. gas stations ran low on fuel and the average price of regular gas reached $3 per gallon.

“Randomly looked up Lyft prices due to the gas shortage, and $40 to go a distance that usually only costs me $15?” one person wrote on Twitter.

“We waited 2 hours for a @lyft in Myrtle Beach cause of this gas shortage,” another person tweeted.

Another social media user compared the search for a rideshare to looking for the elusive PlayStation 5 video game console.

“Finding a Lyft outside of the ATL airport is like getting a PS5 these days,” the tweet said.

Impacts on drivers

Gas prices have been going up since a cyberattack forced the Colonial Pipeline to shut down operations over the weekend. The pipeline, which brings fuel to nearly half of the East Coast, was back online as of late Wednesday.

By then, drivers fearing a gas shortage had rushed to fill their tanks across the Southeast. The rush to “panic-buy” led to long lines outside of some gas stations as others ran out of fuel.

The situation has concerned some rideshare drivers who have to put gas in their cars regularly so they can do their jobs.

“It’s just fantastic timing to have a gas shortage when i need to drive a total of about 10 hours + surviving on Uber eats driving in the next few days,” one person wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

“@Uber @Uber_Support @UberEats How are you guys planning on dealing with the gas shortage?” another person tweeted. “I don’t know about everyone else but I personally fill up every other day driving for y’all. Will we be compensated for the higher gas prices?”

Another driver said he was worried costs could continue to go up and dig into his profits, WXIA reported.

“If there’s no gas or it becomes extremely high it’s going to become very detrimental to my line of work,” Jon Dabney, an Uber and Lyft driver in Georgia, told the TV station.

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