Are cheap rides on Uber and Lyft gone for good?

Plenty of rideshare news for this week’s roundup. First, a Prop-22-style ballot measure has been blocked from Massachusetts ballots by the courts. Plus, is the era of cheap rides really over? Let’s dive into these issues and more with senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins.

Why do experts say the era of cheap rides from Uber and Lyft is over? (KHOU)

Summary: Why do experts say the era of cheap rides from Uber and Lyft is over?

For most of the last decade we have enjoyed relatively cheap trips from ride sharing companies. While surge pricing could hit from time to time, for the most part rides were so affordable cities saw a drop in the use of public transportation.

Now gas prices are surging, inflation is on the rise and the labor market is so tight, workers are less likely to need a side hustle.

But there is a driving force beyond those factors that could put the brakes on cheap rides – profit.

According to Slate, since Uber was founded in 2009 it has lost $30 billion….

My Take: It’s not surprising that cheap rides are a thing of the past. Uber and Lyft spent so much money trying to get loyal customers, that it was inevitable it would progress to this point. Unfortunately, if the cost of an Uber is going to equal the same as a taxi, the tides may shift back to what was popular before the gig economy took over the road.

If it’s going to cost me $60+ to get to work taking an Uber, but it would cost me less to use other means, I’ll choose the other option if I can. Customers want a deal. They want whatever option is cheapest. If cheap rides don’t exist, expect fewer ride requests.

Massachusetts court blocks gig worker ballot measure backed by Uber, Lyft (CNN)

Summary: Massachusetts’ top court on Tuesday blocked a bid to ask voters whether app-based ride-share and delivery drivers should be treated as independent contractors rather than employees, in a setback for companies like Uber (UBER (UBER)) and Lyft (LYFT (LYFT)).

The unanimous decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court marked a victory for labor activists who sued and argued the ballot measure proposal contained loopholes that would create a sub-minimum wage for drivers for the companies.

The court said a ballot question that a coalition of app-based service providers hoped to put before voters in November went too far by including an unrelated proposal that would limit their liability for accidents by their drivers….

My Take: A surprising twist, in my opinion. I didn’t think the courts would take that step, mostly based on Uber and Lyf being able to buy their way onto the ballot in California. I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ve heard from them on this matter, though. Uber and Lyft (and other platforms supporting this measure) would just need to change the wording of it.

Buckle up and get ready to see this again. It’s not over yet, I’m certain of it.

Rideshare drivers struggle to make ends meet as gas prices rise (WCIA)

Summary: As the cost of gas continues to surge, rideshare drivers are working overtime to meet demand. Some have needed to trade their vehicles for more efficient ones, or even quit altogether.

Two drivers said platfofrms like Uber and Lyft offer drivers about 55 cents per trip to accommodate gas prices. But, that’s only a fraction of what a gallon costs, and many of those trips span miles.

When Adam Corbett first started driving for Uber months ago, a gallon of gas cost several dollars less than it does today. It seemed like the perfect deal.

“I make my own hours, and I know I’m home with the kids when I need to be home,” Corbett said.

But, it turned out too good to be true.

“It’s getting to be a struggle to get the bills paid. It’s put a lot of stress on me,” he said.

My Take: The drivers in this article make a lot of sense – some are quitting, some are exchanging gas-guzzling cars for more efficient cars like the Prius. Everyone is acknowledging prices are going up, but who’s doing anything about it? It’s clear the gas surcharge Uber and Lyft proposed before the summer isn’t cutting it.

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Also in the news…

Moves Raises $5 Million to Empower Gig Workers to Own the Gig Economy (BusinessWire)

Thoughts: Moves continues to make moves such as this, empowering gig workers to make the system work in their favor. According to the article, “To accelerate its mission of making the gig economy work for its workers, Moves has taken a radical approach of enabling thousands of gig workers to become owners in the companies they earn on.”

Uber to expand ride reservation feature at airports ahead of busy summer travel season (MSN)

Thoughts: Uber’s ride reservation feature is coming to more airports in anticipation of increased travel this summer. Customers will be able to book reservations up to 30 days in advance.

‘This shouldn’t be allowed to happen!’: Instacart shopper says a customer cancelled a 125-item order after she collected half of it—and Instacart paid her $7 for it (DailyDot)

Thoughts: A lot of commenters on RSG’s Facebook page agreed that this was appalling, but others also pointed out that they would have only been paid about $7 even if they’d completed the order.

What would you have done if that Instacart shopper experience had happened to you? What are you currently doing about high gas prices?

-Paula @ RSG