TAMPA, Fla. — Pre-pandemic, when you hopped on the highway, Ubers and Lyfts were everywhere. Now, they’re few and far between.
“Yeah, expect it to be for a little while,” said Chris Gerace, a part-time driver, and contributor to the Ride Share Guy, a block aimed to help gig workers strategize and make better decisions while on the road and working. They also give up-to-date info on the gig industry.
Rideshare companies admit they are hurting for more drivers and riders have noticed.
“You are significantly waiting a longer duration of time to get your ride,” said Kristiane, from Tampa.
“I took it from St. Pete to Tampa,” Omar Osman said. “It took a little longer than average to get to me.”
Gerace says the lack of drivers is multi-faceted.
“They went to other opportunities, whether it’s a different job, maybe a different part of the gig economy, maybe food delivery like door dash or Postmates or Uber eats,” he said. “Maybe just not feeling comfortable taking rides yet.”
And he says it has forced rideshare companies to step up to the challenge.
“They’re really almost in desperation mode to try and bring drivers back,” Gerace said.
Uber announced it will offer a $250 million dollar one-time stimulus to entice people to get back behind the wheel. Javi Correoso, a spokesperson for Uber in Florida says drivers in the Tampa area average about $22 an hour for 20 hours a week.
“We are increasing new incentives to those hourly earnings to roughly about $27 an hour,” he said.
In Pinellas County, Correoso says retirees make up a large percentage of drivers.
“Retirees have been in the age bracket that’s most at risk for the pandemic,” he said. “We’ve heard from drivers that they’ll feel more comfortable returning to the platform once more people are vaccinated.”
Lyft is also trying to lure drivers back and say they will offer up money guarantees for the first 100 rides you do in 30 days. Gerace says someone sent him an impressive incentive specific to Tampa.
“$6,000 for 100 rides, that’s huge,” he said. “With Tampa, it was very strange to see that type of earnings guarantee, normally it’s much less.”
Gerace says those numbers oftentimes are based on your IP address. When we searched driver incentives from a computer in Pinellas it promised $2,300.
“For those who are driving, it’s great to see them back,” said Kristiane. “I think we’re all getting a little bit more comfortable in those confined spaces.”
The lack of drivers may also be the culprit behind higher delivery fees when it comes to Uber eats.
It’s is also leading to more surge pricing where rates can sometimes double or triple. Yellow Cab in Tampa says it’s allowed them to be more competitive in the market.
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