MILLBRAE (KPIX) – The rideshare gig economy was born and flourished in the Bay Area but, as gas prices edge ever closer to $6 a gallon, the question is: what business model and drivers survive?
Arco Station in Millbrae, just off Highway 101 south of SFO, is a necessary pit stop for rideshare drivers in the Bay Area.
Right now, this pit stop is not only necessary but costly – and it’s driving drivers on Uber and Lyft platforms to seek new careers.
“To be honest, I’m looking for another job… and I’ll probably move too. I’m thinking of moving to Arizona or somewhere else,” said a pilot named Aladeen.
The current payment configuration for drivers does not take into account the price of fuel.
“There were no refunds. Unfortunately, us drivers have taken the brunt of it all from the start,” said Taylor Hazell, Lyft driver.
Two petitions are circulating for ride-sharing companies to cover some of the rapidly rising cost of gas.
Dara Kerr, who covers the gig economy for The Markup, says help isn’t expected to arrive soon.
“I’m not optimistic that companies will raise driver fares given the past history of companies increasing their profits – they’ve been reluctant to do so. It seems as if they were to temporarily raise fares , then they would be pressured to keep those rates at those higher rates. So I don’t really see that happening,” Kerr told KPIX.
The companies are partnering with some gas companies to offer drivers a discount at the pump, but many say that’s not enough to stay on the apps.
“With gas prices, it’s going to squeeze your profits and it’s going to work for less than minimum wage,” said driver Kianna Williamson of Stockton.
Drivers are skeptical of meaningful help from Uber and Lyft.
“I don’t have a relationship with the CEO, so we’ll see. We’ll see. This will be new to me,” Lyft driver Danielle Aguilar said.