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NYC’s Uber Drivers Appeal to Company for Aid as Gas Prices Stay High

Published: March 30, 2022
App-based drivers and delivery workers take part in a protest at the former headquarters of Uber Technologies on March 29, 2022 in New York City. App-based drivers and delivery workers, in a caravan of cars, staged drive-thru protest demanding fair pay in response to rising gas prices. The workers are calling on Uber to roll back their commission on drivers’ trips. (Image: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Gig economy drivers held a protest in light of high gas prices with their vehicles on Tuesday, March 29, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan and up to the Uber headquarters, hoping for aid from the online rideshare platform.  

Gas prices have jumped to rare heights since the beginning of 2021, with the Russia-Ukraine war further exacerbating an already-heated situation with rising inflation as authorities print trillions to prop up the U.S. economy. 

On Tuesday, the average price of gas was $4.24 per gallon, according to AAA. In 2020, New Yorkers could expect to pay less than $3 for a gallon. 

The cars bore signs with slogans such as “App Workers Deserve a Living Wage” and “Need Money 4 Gas.” Other signs read “Help Local Uber/Lyft Drivers” and “Gas Prices Are Killing Our Income!”

One placard said “Honk!!!” — reminiscent of the slogan from the recent Freedom Convoy in Canada that was violently dispersed by the authorities and its leaders arrested. 

Uber Drivers Protest Outside New York Offices For More Pay As Gas Prices Rise
App-based drivers and delivery workers take part in a protest at the former headquarters of Uber Technologies on March 29, 2022 in New York City. (Image: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

According to the New York Post, the protesting Uber drivers have already tried petitioning the NYC government for help, but to no avail. One protester told the Post that the increase in gas prices — a tank that used to cost $50 to fill now costs $70 — makes it “not even worth it to work more because you are using more gas.” 

The protesters are looking for a “fuel surcharge” that will be passed onto customers. They also want Uber to reduce the cut it takes for trips. 

According to drivers interviewed by The Post, both Uber and Lyft, a competing platform, have been slow to react to the price hikes. One 40-year-old driver described how his daily earnings have almost halved. Usually, he would take home $100 of $200 paid for by riders, but now the added price of gas cuts his profit to $50 or $60. 

Another driver, 37, said that Uber was “charging the passengers crazy money but it doesn’t come down to us,” and that the NYC authorities had failed to “regulate Uber the way it is supposed to.”

“The mayor and the City Council can do more. They are just playing around with the issue. This is no joke for us. It’s hitting us hard in the pockets,” the driver said.  

A statement released by NYC’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) said that it was “reviewing calls for a fuel surcharge and we look forward to having conversations with drivers and industry stakeholders.”

“TLC is always interested in ways to support drivers, especially in this current challenging environment,” Acting Commissioner Ryan Wanttaja said in the statement.