Uber and Lyft drivers are feeling the pinch of high gas costs – Newsday

Record-breaking gasoline price hikes this month are hitting the pockets of app-based gig drivers hard.

Contract workers who drive for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart and other companies pay for their own gas to transport people and goods in their own cars, but some quit after finding the benefits of gigs don’t outweigh costs, drivers and labor experts said.

“Right now I’m looking for extra part-time work for the weekends and if I found it I’d quit driving,” said Adem Aydin, 47, a Shoreham resident who drives for Uber.

Uber driver Adem Aydin, who attended a Long Island Uber and Lyft Network meeting in Massapequa on Saturday, said high gas costs were eating away at his profits.
Credit: reg/Morgan Campbell

Of 252 Uber and Lyft drivers across the country who were surveyed, 30% were driving less and 13% had stopped due to high gas prices, according to a poll last week by “The Rideshare Guy,” a blog and a podcast that provides information about and for rideshare drivers.

On Long Island, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline on Wednesday was $4.27, 49% higher than the price a year earlier, according to AAA.

Some of the companies that hire gig drivers have responded to rising prices by adding fuel surcharges and other benefits paid to drivers.

This month, ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft began evaluating temporary fuel surcharges — they’ll be in place for at least 60 days — in which passengers will be charged 45 cents to 55 cents for each ride and all that money. will be paid to drivers. Customers using the Uber app who click for the fare breakdown before scheduling a ride will see the additional 55 cents listed for “estimated surcharges.” The Lyft app also lists the supplement.

Grocery delivery service Instacart added a 40-cent fuel surcharge to every customer order for a month. Restaurant delivery app DoorDash is offering drivers a 10% discount on gas purchases made with a prepaid debit card until at least April.

But drivers and their advocates say that’s not enough, especially since fuel surcharges are based on journeys, not miles driven, and companies take too big a slice of the financial pie.

“If they raise our… [per-mile] and the rate per minute, we may be able to breathe a little. But as things stand, a lot of drivers have [chosen] stop driving because it’s no longer feasible or beneficial to them,” said Jacquelyn Wideman, a Brooklyn resident who co-founded Long Island’s Uber and Lyft network in 2017 and drives for both ride-sharing companies. in Long Island.

Jacquelyn Wideman, co-founder of Long Island's Uber and Lyft network,...

Jacquelyn Wideman, co-founder of Long Island Uber and Lyft Network, said ride-sharing companies need to do more to help drivers.
Credit: reg/Morgan Campbell

The network is one of nine groups in a coalition, Justice for App Workers, which on Tuesday led a caravan of rideshare drivers and delivery people from Brooklyn to Uber offices in Manhattan to call on companies to cut their commissions on driver journeys and provide fair services Pay.

Asked about the coalition’s demands, Uber cited its new fuel surcharge paid to drivers outside of New York and its increase in the rate of pay for drivers in the city that was mandated by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

“Uber raised its rate for drivers by 5.3% in early March, bringing the minimum wage to $31.74. [per hour online for the average driver] in New York and contributing to higher fuel prices. This is part of an annual increase tied to the rate of inflation… By contrast, taxi drivers in New York City have not had a meter increase in 10 years,” said Uber Technologies Inc., based in San Francisco, in a statement.

Uber is the nation’s largest ride-sharing company, where it accounts for 70% of the market share, according to Bloomberg Second Measure, a Manhattan-based consumer data analytics firm.

‘$30 after nine hours’

Aydin, who works full-time as an electronics engineer, has been driving for Uber on weekends for about four years.

The married father of two sons, 1 and 7, took the gig on a part-time basis to help support his family, he said.

On Friday, he earned $113 driving for Uber, but he paid $50 for gas and will pay about $20 in income tax, he said.

“I came home with $30 after nine,” said Aydin, who said the part-time gig wasn’t worth the effort or cost now.

Lyft said its drivers were spending an average of 75 cents more on gas per hour in early March than a year earlier.

In addition to Lyft’s 55-cent fuel surcharge, the company has beefed up its cash back program to offer drivers a 4% to 5% cashback on gas purchases through June 30.

Additionally, in January, Lyft partnered with GetUpside, a cashback app, which allows drivers to earn up to 32 cents per gallon.

Nationally, Lyft drivers are earning more per hour on average than they did a year ago, the company said.

But part of that increase is due to more customers requesting rides after the decline amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a spokesperson for San Francisco-based Lyft Inc. said.

Taxi drivers and concert drivers held a rally in New York...

Taxi and concert drivers staged a rally in New York last week calling for surcharges to offset record gas prices.
Credit: AP/Brittainy Newman

How many drivers?

Justice for App Workers said that amounts to 100,000 rideshare drivers and delivery people in the New York metro area, but it’s unclear how many gig drivers there are in New York State or how many might have left the work during the past year.

The companies the drivers work for will not disclose their driver numbers.

Data from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is also unclear.

Uber and Lyft are classified as transportation network companies, or TNCs, that the state approved to operate on Long Island and upstate in 2017.

State law requires transnational corporations to enroll all of their drivers in the DMV’s Licensing Event Notification System, or LENS, which tracks licensing events such as traffic convictions, suspensions, revocations and reinstatements.

Uber currently has about 94,000 people in the LENS system and Lyft has about 29,600, DMV spokesman Tim O’Brien said.

But those numbers don’t clarify whether enrollees are still driving since first entering LENS, or whether they’re contract drivers or company employees, he said. Also, some may work for more than one TNC and could be in the system more than once, O’Brien said.

In New York State, passengers of black car and limo companies and TNCs pay a 3% surcharge for each ride. Companies are required by law to make these payments monthly to the Black Car Fund, a nonprofit organization created by the state legislature to provide workers’ compensation insurance to for-hire drivers.

The Black Car Fund estimates it covers more than 100,000 for-hire drivers statewide, but the nonprofit doesn’t know how many Uber and Lyft drivers are among them, the gatekeeper said. -word Lionel Morales.

Prices break records

The uncertainty caused by Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the problem of rising gas prices. They had risen for months before, mainly due to tight supply and increased consumer demand amid the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gasoline prices hit multi-day record highs in March.

Here’s how the awards stack up nationally and on Long Island.

US average price per gallon

Previous high before this month: $4.11 on July 17, 2008

Current high: $4.33 on March 11

Price Wednesday: $4.24

Price one year ago: $2.87

Average price per gallon on Long Island

Previous high before this month: $4.35 on July 8, 2008

Current high: $4.47 on March 11

Price Wednesday: $4.27

Price one year ago: $2.87

Source: AAA

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