If you've taken an Uber or Lyft lately, you may have paid a sky-high fare. And things aren't going to change anytime soon.
Sean Green recently took a trip to surprise his mom for her 60th birthday. But the real surprise for Green was the cost of his Uber trip from LAX to his home in Eagle Rock: $155. It used to cost around $60.
"I was so steamed, I was so mad," said Green.
Diane Murphy paid nearly $100 for her 12 mile ride home from LAX. She says it was a $70 jump from the usual fare.
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"I would have, at that point, called my son, who lives a mile from the airport, and said 'Would you like to make 80 bucks and pick up your mom from the airport?'"
So what's going on? Chris Gerace, a rideshare driver and contributor to the industry blog "The Rideshare Guy" says it comes down to supply and demand. He says when the pandemic hit, and passengers dried up, drivers fled the platform. But now that California is opening back up, people are going places and wanting rides, but drivers haven't returned.
Gerace says there are a few reasons why: unemployment benefits are better than their paychecks; they don't feel safe enough yet; or they've switched to driving for food delivery platforms instead, that don't require close customer contact. Gerace says it'll be awhile before drivers come back.
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"Know that this isn't going to be something that's solved in the near future," he said. "This is going to be a number of months." Both Lyft and Uber told the I-Team they're aware of the driver shortage and they're trying to lure back drivers with incentives, like bonuses.
Jerome Gage is a driver and showed us how the new bonuses work -- drivers can earn extra cash for picking up riders in high demand areas.
"I have to be incredibly picky about when I drive because the wages are so low," said Gage. "So unless they're offering a bonus on a ride, I'm generally inclined to decline it." Many drivers are saying the job simply doesn't pay like it used to. So more of them are staying off the road. Which means these higher Lyft and Uber prices could be reality for some time to come.
And that could convince passengers to return to a life without rideshare. That's what Green's done.
"I went to LAX again recently and paid for airport parking and didn't bother with Uber," he said.
Both Green and Murphy say their high fares weren't fully disclosed by Uber, so they disputed them with the company. Green got his money back; Murphy didn't. Uber and Lyft both told the I-Team they're fully disclosing fares before passengers accept a ride.