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Uber and Lyft Drivers Struggling to Survive Due to Skyrocketing Gas Prices

Published: March 15, 2022
An Uber logo is seen on a sign outside the company's headquarters location as people protest nearby in San Francisco, California on May 8, 2019. (Image: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Workers driving for ride-hailing platforms Uber and Lyft say they are struggling to survive amidst record high gas prices prompting some to say they are going to quit entirely. 

Gas prices have soared to record highs with many pointing the finger at Russia’s aggression in Ukraine despite prices having started their upward trend prior to Putin’s invasion. 

As of Monday, a gallon of regular grade gasoline cost $4.33, up from $3.49 the previous month and significantly up from the same time last year when a gallon of gas only cost $2.86, according to AAA data.  

Rideshare drivers are responsible for their own maintenance, insurance and fuel costs so rising fuel prices are wiping out large portions of their paychecks. 

On a Reddit forum, dedicated to discussing experiences by both riders and drivers of the popular ride hailing platforms, one Lyft driver wrote, “Lyft must be crazy if they think imma drive,” while another said, “I was out last night and it went okay till I had to pump gas and noticed I barely broke even. Lyft is a joke.”

Another declared, “Nope, I’m done.”

Lyft and Uber add fuel surcharge for riders

In response to surging fuel prices both Uber and Lyft have announced that they will be temporarily applying a fuel surcharge for all rides on their platforms. 

The tech companies say that 100 percent of the fees will go to drivers.

Riders with Uber can expect to pay a fee of $0.45 to $0.55 per trip while UberEats deliveries will include a charge of $0.35 or $0.45 on each order, depending on their location. Lyft announced on Monday that the company will be following suit and will be adding their own fuel surcharge however stopped short of providing more detail. Both companies said the temporary surcharges will be applied to all rides for at least the next two months. 

In a statement to its drivers Uber explained the new surcharge as such, “This means that if you complete 40 rides in a week, you’ll get an extra $22.00 that week. Similarly, if you complete 40 deliveries in a week, you’ll get an extra $18.00 that week.”

The announcement prompted one Uber driver to post, “Spent $40 for half a tank today. That $22 sure sounds … pathetic.”

Another driver commented, “But the surcharge isn’t meant to cover the entire cost of gas, it’s meant to cover the increased cost of gas. I fill up my tank after every 50 rides or so, and I’m paying an extra $10-20 per fill up. At $.50 per ride, I make an extra $25, which more than makes up the difference,” adding that “Obviously, other peoples’ cars have different mileages or they take longer or shorter trips on average, but for me personally, I’m coming out a bit ahead. At least until prices go up even more.”

CJ Macklin, a spokesperson for Lyft, said in a statement that the company has been “closely monitoring” the surging gas prices and its impact on drivers.

“Driver earnings overall remain elevated compared to last year, but given the rapid rise in gas prices we’ll be asking riders to pay a temporary fuel surcharge, all of which will go to drivers,” Macklin said.