Gig workers who drive for ride-hailing and delivery companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have been hit hard by rising gas prices because their ability to earn money is tied directly to driving hundreds of miles each week. And because the drivers are contract workers, the companies do not reimburse them for the cost of fueling up.
Some drivers say they have had enough and the added cost of gas is making an already difficult financial equation untenable. The national average price of a gallon of gas peaked at a record $4.33 last week, according to AAA.
“High gas prices are the final nail in the coffin,” said Harry Campbell, who writes a blog called the Rideshare Guy and produces a podcast aimed at helping ride-hailing drivers. “Rising gas prices make a tough situation even tougher, and for a lot of drivers, it’s sort of the final straw that pushes them over the edge.”
In a survey last week of 325 drivers who follow his content, Campbell found 38% were driving less because of high gas prices and 15% had quit driving altogether.
Some drivers around the country staged a boycott of ride-hailing apps Thursday, though it was difficult to say for certain how many participated.
Uber, Lyft and DoorDash say overall driver numbers are not down. Uber said it has more active drivers now than it did in January. Both Uber and Lyft added small fees to the price of rides in most places for the next two months, a change they say will help compensate drivers.
Both Uber and Lyft say drivers have been making more money since lockdowns lifted than they did earlier in the pandemic or even pre-pandemic, even when accounting for rising gas prices.
Gridwise, an app that helps drivers track their earnings and tallies data, found drivers’ earnings have risen nationally in recent months, from an average of $308 per week in early January to $426 in early March. But gas costs for ride-hailing drivers have also gone up, from $31 per transaction to nearly $39 in the same period.
Uber and Lyft say the entirety of their new gas fees – $0.35 to $0.55 per trip for Uber and $0.55 for Lyft – will go to the drivers. But some drivers say the action is inadequate. Gas prices, on average, have increased by 49% in the past year, according to AAA.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.