CHICAGO (CBS) — If you’re planning to take an Uber or Lyft anytime soon, get ready to pay more.
The rideshare trips are much more expensive these days. CBS 2’s Jim Williams spent the day digging into the reasons.
Jay Barksdale was making a familiar trip to Northwestern Hospital.
“I was going to see my hand doctor,” Barksdale said. “Usually 8:00 in the morning.”
It’s normally a $12 to $16 dollars Uber ride. Jay’s receipt for the same trip two weeks ago: $35.24.
“I was pretty shocked. I was mildly angered,” Barksdale said.
The sticker shock is spreading far and wide. Rideshare fares are soaring.
“Everybody is going through the same agonizing thing.”
Shelley Howard showed an example: Two trips to Rush Street from home on Lyft. In December 2019 it was $9.00. For February of 2021 it was $21. Even higher last week, according to Howard.
“A trip to Rush Street last week was $45,” Howard said. “I mean, are you nuts? It used costs $45 to take a car to the airport.”
Why the big jump in fares? The old concept of “supply and demand.” When demand outpaces supply, the costs jump.
“It’s getting warmer out, we’re all vaccinated and we want to go out,” Howard said.
More people leaving home now, but as CBS 2 reported on Monday, fewer drivers are available.
“Fear, honestly and truly fear.”
Drivers like Jeanette Finn, fearful of COVID and carjackings, are sidelined. Uber and Lyft are trying to lure them back to meet the growing demand.
DePaul University professor and transportation expert Joe Schwieterman.
“They do not directly control the number of drivers. They rely on drivers to come out on their own initiative,” Schwieterman said. “And those drivers have been slow to come back.”
Customers are looking for alternatives:
“You’ve got have plan A, plan B, and plan C.”
For Jay Barksdale, it’ll be more trips in his car.
Pre-pandemic, rideshares were less expensive than taxis. Not now, said Howard.
“I find cabs to be a more reasonable option but don’t tell anyone that,” Howard said.
One rideshare industry insider said fares are higher to give drivers more incentive to work. Higher fares, higher pay. One transportation expert said don’t expect fares to come down until more drivers hit the streets.
Dr. Hani Mahmassani, Director of Northwestern University’s Transportation Center, said don’t look for a price drop anytime soon.
“We’ve had a faster recovery in riders than we’ve had in drivers,” Mahmassani said. “To the extent that is going to be happening at a faster rate than drivers are going back in, I suspect we’re going to have these prices for some time before they’re going to be going down.”
CBS 2 reached out to Lyft and Uber for comment. Uber has yet to respond. Lyft send a statement:
“We’re seeing big increases in demand for rides, as vaccines roll out and people get ready to start moving again. We’re working to meet demand, including providing incentives to drivers, who are busier and earning more than they were even before the pandemic.”
An industry insider had this information regarding drivers and what they make:
• Drivers have seen an increase in hourly earnings and are making an average of $31 per hour. That’s in a market where 96% of drivers work or are students in addition to driving on the Lyft platform.
• Drivers using rideshare as a primary or secondary source of income. Additionally, 21% of drivers in Chicago said that they drove more during the pandemic because they were laid off, furloughed or had their hours or pay cut because of COVID-19, so the income is incredibly necessary.
• This heightened demand as ride volumes increase may cause some areas to experience higher prices and wait times as we incentivize drivers to head to areas with increased demand.
With upfront pricing (ex. Lyft), riders are alerted when it’s busy and asked to confirm they accept the price before requesting a ride.