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Prices surging for Uber and Lyft because of a lack of drivers

Posted at 10:00 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 10:00:49-04

DETROIT  — Uber and Lyft are still struggling to bring back drivers, which is leading to a surge in pricing and longer wait times, driving people towards potentially dangerous decisions.

According to a new study from the University of California, in 2019 Uber reduced alcohol-related traffic deaths by 6.1%, equating to 214 lives saved. The state also says Uber helped lower overall US-related traffic deaths by 4%.

Uber and Lyft both have no plans to cap and reduce surge pricing. Both sent 7 Action News statements stating the more drivers that are hired over time to more balanced the market will became.

A statement from Hayley Prim, Police Manager from Uber reading: “With the city’s economy bouncing back and vaccination rates increasing, drivers are returning to Uber in force to take advantage of higher earnings opportunities from our driver stimulus while they are still available.”

Statement from a Lyft spokesperson: “In the spring, as vaccines rolled out and people started moving again, we began to see the demand for rides outpace the number of available drivers. We’ve added thousands of drivers in the past few weeks and it’s already leading to a better rider experience with wait times down more than 15% nationwide, and down 35% in some major markets. For drivers, it continues to be a great time to drive with drivers in top markets earning significantly more than they were pre-pandemic.”

But for those who depend on Uber or Lyft, like Alberto Hicks, their wallets are hurting.

“Sometimes the prices end up fluctuating do to certain small circumstances, due to the flooding we had a few weeks ago, it shot up from the normal $20 and some change all the way to $250,” said Hicks.

For driver Chris Welch, who works as a mortgage loan officer and drives Lyft on the side, he has notice less tips and says he does not know when surge pricing happens.

“I mean like if it is opening day I know, but no as a driver it doesn’t say anything really,” said Welch.

Welch did say he has made more money now than when is started driving Lyft three years ago because of special bonus. For example, if you give a set amount of rides in a row or in a week you can make extra cash.

Higher prices are hitting hard here in metro Detroit, where public transportation is already lacking.

“A lot of people are pretty surprised when they come from other big cities to Detroit how limited our options are,” said Megan Owens.

Megan Owens is the Executive Director of Transportation Riders United, a non-profit dedicated to bettering public transportation. She laid out a few other modes of transportation, for example SMARTBUS or DDOT.

There are still some cab companies around, but you’ll likely have to call them a head of time. There are also scooters and bikes available for rent.

“The MOGO is a bike share that has extended not only from downtown and midtown Detroit but up in the Ferndale, Royal Oak, Berkley area,” said Owens.

Getting where you need to go shorter distances is proving to be a bit easier than longer distances. For example, SMART rolled out their “Flex” option not too long ago for rides. However right now it’s only operational in certain areas, like Troy and Dearborn.

Some of these options are better during the day than if you are going out on the night on the town. If you are planning on staying out late and drinking, just remember Uber and Lyft is still cheaper than getting pulled over.

“That $75 Uber ride might seem scary but losing your license over a DUI is a heck of a lot worse,” said Owens.

Lyft does have a wait and save option, which allows you to wait for a cheaper ride.

In the past both Uber and Lyft allowed ride sharing between app users which helped lower costs. However, because of the pandemic that option has been suspended until further notice.

As for how long these prices will last, Lyft’s CEO said at a recent event he expects the supply and demand in riders and drivers to be more balanced in the next few months helping balance the prices.