Boston, Massachusetts 2021-06-16 12:42:21 –
Vaccinated customers flock to restaurants and bars. The business is back at full capacity. And for many, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought back the true resemblance of normality.
However, the Uber and Lyft situation is not normal.
Nationwide, the ride-hailing service industry is experiencing a historic driver shortage this spring. Many stopped driving during the pandemic. Significant drop in demand The job was worth their time.
Demand for vehicles is recovering in the wake of the pandemic, but supply has not yet continued. Fear of COVID-19, increased unemployment benefits, and lack of childcare have prevented many former Uber and Lyft drivers from returning. Unusually high price And wait for a long time.
And in the Boston area, getting a vehicle was very difficult.
According to Uber, the average ride time in Boston this spring was 40% longer than in Philadelphia and 147% longer than in New York City. (Lyft refused to share market-specific rider or driver numbers.) It was not uncommon for riders to open the app and see the message “No car”.
As a Back Bay resident I talked to a local TV station last month, “You are just stuck.”
Both company officials and drivers say Massachusetts legislation prohibiting “surge pricing” during emergencies is partly due to a serious local shortage.
In 2016, state legislators passed law After Uber, during a state of emergency declared by the Governor, it usually bans surge pricing practices that serve as an incentive for more drivers to go out on the streets and meet high demand. Scrutinized For charging Exorbitant price During the snowstorm.
However, the law also meant that Uber and Lyft were unable to raise the base fare at all during the COVID-19 state of emergency by Governor Charlie Baker.
After a total of 462 days, COVID-19 said “RunningBaker lifted the state of emergency this Tuesday.
Uber said the company contacted the driver to inform them of the potential for additional revenue from the refund of the spiked fares and expressed hope for better access. Still, the company acknowledged that this change would not immediately resolve the shortfall.
“We know that allowing soaring pricing improves credibility,” Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang told Boston.com in a statement. “But as people continue to travel, we expect the level of spikes to rise as we continue to strive to get drivers back on the road.”
According to Beth Griffith, Uber and Lyft driver and executive director of the Boston Independent Drivers Guild, the revival of soaring pricing could allow some local drivers to return to the streets, but the underlying factor driving the country’s shortage. Many remain.
Massachusetts Continuation A $ 300 federal boost to unemployment benefits through September. Even though some drivers do not trust the COVID-19 vaccine Proven effectiveness..And Exorbitant childcare costs According to Griffith, the economic calculation of returning to work is a bad deal for many drivers in the state.
Uber and Lyft have provided bonuses to bring drivers back. However, according to Griffith, these monetary incentives do not offset the decline in wage rates per mile combined with gas and other costs in the long run.
Stephen Levine, an Uber and Lyft driver for more than six years, said the resurgence of soaring prices in Massachusetts could bring some part-time drivers back. According to Lyft, 96% of Boston drivers are students or have other jobs.
“They rely on that extra money,” Levine said. “Generally when it comes to soaring prices, it’s usually what they see when they’re at work.”
Still, BIDG’s board member Levine, who returned to full-time driving after the unemployment allowance was gone, said surge fares were more modest than when he first went into operation in 2015. At that time, the surge fare was a basic fare of $ 1.24 per mile for 2, 3, 4 and even 10 rides. Since then, the base rate has gradually dropped to 66 cents per mile, he said.
“The current soaring price model is relatively very different,” Levine said, adding that “additional money can help” but not “that great.”
A Lyft spokesman didn’t say how the reintroduction of surge prices would affect Massachusetts’ driver shortage, but the company “meets demand by providing incentives for busy and high-income drivers. We are working for it. ” Even before the pandemic. ”
Drivers disagree with the idea that they are making more.Even with higher rider prices, Levine says it produces less per ride than it did when it first started (probably still worth noting). Lose billions of dollars a year, Uber and Lyft say they This year’s adjustment-based profitable project).
However, Griffith said he believes some drivers may return to unemployment this summer. This is usually a more difficult time to make money at a college student’s home. She also said she had spoken to “many” drivers who had recently become interested in vocational schools.
“They’re just trying to get out of the ride-sharing industry altogether,” she said.
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