“Why aren’t there more Uber or Lyft drivers on the road?” This question has been coming up a lot, but more so since the pandemic restrictions have eased.
We covered the Lyft and Uber driver shortage previously, but it looks like passengers are still complaining about long wait times, higher prices and fewer drivers on the road.
If things are really “getting back to normal”, what gives? Why aren’t drivers back on the road? Is it truly because gig work sucks?
10 Reasons Drivers are Staying Off the Road (in no particular order)
1. Delivering instead
Some drivers are realizing they put less mileage on their vehicles by delivering instead of taking passengers.
One person on Reddit was asking advice for getting back on the road post-pandemic, and here’s one response: “It’s not worth it. Uber pays 66 cents a mile. It will cost you 40k to buy your next new car. Save your car, do Doordash instead.”
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One of our readers on Facebook mentioned, “I was doing Uber/Lyft full time when covid hit, rides dried up. I also work for a courier company. I’d get a call once or twice a month it wasn’t much until covid hit! Everyday For the past 13 months I’ve been traveling around Central PA. Picking up covid specimens and delivering them to the dept. of health down by Philadelphia.”
2. Unemployment, PPP funds, etc.
This seems to be becoming less and less of the overarching reason, but there are still drivers who are collecting unemployment or using up Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds or other loan/grant money offered during the pandemic.
The extra $300 a week from the federal government is a key component for those collecting unemployment because it helps drivers reach a comfort zone level of earnings without putting the wear and tear on their cars and without dealing with passengers. However, one thing to keep in mind is 24 states have either stopped giving out the extra unemployment or are planning on stopping in the near future.
It’s currently set to expire in September, but some states are backing out early. The claim is that there are too many job openings that are not being filled. Removing the extra aid is supposed to encourage those on unemployment to fill those job openings.
3. Lower pay rates/temporary promotions or bonuses
Both Uber and Lyft have been advertising promotions and bonuses for drivers in markets that are hurting. Seasoned drivers know these extra earnings are all temporary and are actually a slap in the face when you consider several markets have lower overall pay rates for their drivers now.
We’d rather see a rate increase as opposed to promotions and bonuses that are likely going to go away soon after we start driving again.
An article in the Guardian made this point:
“One of our key learnings is that unemployment benefits have not disincentivized work but given gig workers the space to refuse the vagaries and indignities of the gig labor market. ‘We are less desperate,’ one worker said, ‘but the companies need desperate people to work for them.’
Gig workers are now simply asking for a fair and equal system that does not separate worker needs from human needs.”
Drivers want more stability in their earnings. It’s hard to go out and drive knowing that you might meet a promotion this week, but next week it might not be offered. That could be the difference between paying your rent and not—or any other bill for that matter.
One driver took to Reddit to share a “conversation” he had with Uber support recently:
Support had reached out to him asking why he’d stopped driving recently. His response was, “Busy in personal life so I’m more selective on my driving time. I’ve been driving for Lyft, they’ve been paying better and offer a better bonus/quest structure. My last Uber ride my customer was charged $148. Without the surge my rate was $38 on that! That’s disgusting. The surge brought me to $80. That’s 54% for me with surge. Your pay used to be better. So when that’s corrected I’ll drive again.”
They did not post a response from Uber if there was one.
On the same thread, one commenter pointed out, “Yea also with Lyft he would never know how much the pax paid too.”
That is another pain point for drivers. There’s no visibility into how much Lyft is taking from drivers. Drivers only see what they earn with no ability to see how much the passenger paid unless a passenger shares that information with them. The lack of transparency is a trust issue that is hard to get over.
On our Facebook page, one commenter stated the reason he’s not driving anymore: “3 words ‘Uber Rates Suck’.”
4. Found a better gig
Some drivers have simply moved on to a different job and like it better than ridesharing.
One shared on our Facebook page: “It [rideshare] has dried up and has too many rideshare drivers for the amount of customers. Went back to 9-5 job and will go back to driving a little on the side when University of Arkansas kiddos come back.”
5. Still don’t feel safe pandemic-wise
There are a lot of people who are still wary of driving because of the pandemic. True, many people are vaccinated, but a lot are still not. And, of course, there are other variants that are now showing up that the vaccine doesn’t necessarily protect against. Couple that with people who don’t want to or who refuse to wear a mask – and many drivers are choosing to opt out.
As some drivers are saying, “The pandemic didn’t just go away because we got tired of it.”
6. Waiting for the mask mandate to lift
On the other hand, there are several drivers out there who think the mask mandate is BS. Regardless of what you want (and most drivers do want the mask mandate to go!) it is still federally mandated at the moment, so Uber and Lyft probably won’t life it until the government does.
One person on Reddit said they ask their passengers their preference and abide by whatever the passenger wants.
However, one person responded with, “Be careful They might say they don’t care and snap a pic of you not wearing a mask. Then they get a free ride and you might be suspended I think masks are bulls*** also but I need the money and can’t risk not being able to drive.”
In some ways, this could also go hand in hand with the next point. No one wants to deal with passengers who are also tired of the mask mandate but who will report you for not wearing a mask to get a free ride, or just for the fun of it.
7. Tired of lying passengers/risk of deactivation
Passengers are obviously unavoidable as Uber and Lyft drivers, but it may have gotten to a point where it’s just not worth it anymore. I can’t even count how many times during the pandemic I came across someone on Reddit saying they were reported for not wearing a mask even though they were…and had video proof of it.
Get enough of those “maskless” claims and a driver could be deactivated permanently. Why bother driving for a platform at all if you don’t know if you’ll be allowed to the next day based on a passenger who has a grudge against you for some reason?
Aside from the mask issue, there are incidents like this one on Reddit. I’m going to do a quick summary because it’s quite a story, but the passenger adds a stop, driver stops and tells pax it can be no longer than 5 min. More than 5 min passes, driver tries to get a hold of pax, no response.
Driver cancels and leaves. Pax had left jacket in car. Driver tried to work out a deal, pax freaks out. Next thing you know, the driver is suspended due to a “safety hazard”.
8. Want to avoid carjackings/road rage incidents
One driver stated on Reddit, in part, “It’s upsetting because we drivers take on all the risk yet the apps are taking in all the profit.”
Someone shared on Reddit a road rage incident that took place recently that they were involved in. They didn’t specify that they won’t Uber or Lyft anymore because of it, but I’m hearing more and more cases (like carjacking) like this where it might cause people to not want to drive.
Basically, the story is that they were in heavy downtown traffic and they merged into a lane that ended up blocking someone else from doing the same since traffic wasn’t moving. So, the disgruntled other person got out and started name calling and went to spit on the driver in question. Luckily it didn’t escalate from there, but it easily could have.
9. Got deactivated and can’t come back
This driver posted on Reddit that they received a speeding ticket in April and got it removed from their record in May. Despite a new Checkr background that is cleared, and submitting the info to Uber, they are still not able to go online to give rides. It’s hard to work for a company that simply won’t let you.
Similarly, it seems like Uber and Lyft deactivate without telling the drivers why more often than not. This person shared, “This week Uber suddenly deactivated my Uber eats deliveries. They gave me a reason like it violated community standards, but won’t tell me what or how or which trip.”
They shared that support had told them to take a specific class to be re-qualified, which they did. However, they are still unable to log on and work.
10. Don’t want to deal with Uber and Lyft anymore
One thing that Lyft is known for is redirecting drivers. You’ll be almost to your passenger for pickup and you’re diverted to another passenger 10 minutes away. It’s frustrating for both the passenger and the driver. According to this Reddit thread, Uber might be doing this now in some markets as well.
Drivers don’t want to deal with nonsense like that on a regular basis. They want to go out, drive, earn money and come home. Extra headaches like rerouting someone who is two turns away from picking up their passenger is, quite frankly, a bad move.
These are just some of the reasons drivers have shared as to why they’re not hitting the road. If you’re a driver who is sitting it out, what’s your reason? Do you plan on returning to rideshare driving eventually?
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-Paula @ RSG