High fuel costs remain talk of the town despite efforts to compensate

The biggest story in the news this week was multiple stories about the high fuel costs, plus drivers share how driving for Uber has changed how they view people. Join senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins for this week’s fuel-charged roundup.

Gig Workers Say High Gas Prices May Be a Breaking Point (NY Times)

Summary: When Adam Potash started driving for Lyft six months ago to help make ends meet, he was happy with the pay. The business was far from lucrative, but he was making about $200 a day before paying for costs like gas and car maintenance.

But as gas prices have risen in recent weeks, Mr. Potash has barely been breaking even. To compensate, he has focused on driving during peak customer hours and tried to fill up at cheaper gas stations in the area around San Francisco where he works. He has also reduced his driving time from about 45 hours each week to roughly 20 hours.

“It hurts. I don’t have money coming in,” Mr. Potash, 48, said of his reduced hours. “But I’m not willing to operate at a loss.”

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….

My Take: This is a story that’s very familiar. New drivers are satisfied enough with the pay because they weren’t around in the “good times” before pay was slashed and slashed and then slashed again. And now, soaring gas prices are making this gig a difficult choice for many.

Drivers are having to make difficult decisions. Suck it up and realize that this is temporary, and hope that gas prices get back to “normal” before too long. Or stop driving until the gas is more affordable. Or potentially cut back how many hours they drive and be very vigilant about only driving when it would be profitable — quests or other bonuses available make up for the increased cost of doing business.

It’s currently at the point where, despite incentives, it might not be worthwhile for some drivers to get out there for the hustle. Of course, other drivers are finding it lucrative to be out there…the gas prices keeping some drivers home is making it more profitable to be on the road.

Lyft follows Uber in adding fuel surcharge for riders because of surging gas prices (CNBC)

Summary: Lyft is adding a temporary surcharge on its rides to help drivers deal with surging gas prices, the company said Monday.

Lyft said the fees will go to drivers, who are in charge of filling up their own tanks. The company did not provide further details on how much more riders can expect to pay. But rideshare drivers have become upset with the rising gas prices, which take away from their earnings. Some have called on Uber and Lyft to ease the burden, while others have threatened to quit.

The fees come in response to rapidly elevating gas prices across the nation due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The national average for a gallon of gas on Monday was $4.325, according to data from AAA. At the same time a year ago, the average was $2.859.

Lyft follows Uber, which announced last week it would add a surcharge on fares and deliveries in the U.S. and Canada for at least two months….

My Take: A few days after Uber announced a fuel incentive, Lyft announced similar surcharges. Just like Uber, these surcharges are going to be charged to the passenger and given directly to the drivers.

But, is it enough? Some drivers estimate it would be an extra $1.80 per gallon in earnings, making it worthwhile. Others say that a flat surcharge of $0.45 or $0.55 per trip is unpredictable, especially for smaller markets. The drivers would earn that extra amount per trip whether they drove 5 miles or 25 miles, which makes a HUGE difference in the long run.

being an uber driver has drastically changed my view on people (Reddit)

Summary: I just wanted to show some appreciation for this job role. Yes, uber the company can be sh*t at times but the human connection this job brings, with strangers you wouldn’t have even cared for otherwise, is second to none imo…

I’m not sure about you guys, but this Job truly does make me appreciate the fullness of life and the complex people that come with it. Before Uber, I could honestly give two sh*ts about people. If their not my friends or family, f*ck em. They’re just NPC characters. Uber has drastically changed that. This might not be a thing to most of you or completely obvious, but to me, it’s been a massive paradigm shift and I’m grateful for it

Editor’s Note: This is an interesting discussion, especially for those of us who may have worked/are working in retail and deal with some real ‘headache’ type customers. But maybe being a driver and having more intimate conversations (vs. the short conversations you may have as a retail worker or server) makes you appreciate the diversity of people? Or is that naive?

Are you noticing a difference in your earnings with the implementation of the fuel surcharges? Is it helping enough?

-Paula @ RSG