If you live in the Los Angeles County area and you regularly use ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, you may have noticed a longer waiting time, fewer drivers, and higher fees for the exact same ride you used to take. If you have, you are not the only one. People aren’t imagining it, it is the reality of the present moment, and there are some underlying reasons why this is happening.
One of the primary reasons why is because many drivers have quit their jobs over the lack of protections against COVID-19, as stated by the Daily News last year. Even though businesses around the area are compliant with the standard precautions against COVID-19 and things are supposedly looking up, according to the The AV Times, the current number of ride-share drivers does not meet the current demand for driver services.
In a letter sent to Los Angeles city attorney, the Mobile Works Alliance complained, “Our employers have done nothing to help drivers, forcing us to supply our own personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and sanitizers.” In response, Uber spokesman Grant Klinzman said his company began distributing ear-loop face masks to drivers and delivery staff around the U.S.
Service Employees International Union, Local 721, spokesman Mike Long explained, “They are only allowed one single-use paper mask and one small bottle of hand sanitizer per week.”
On top of all this, there was also a strike this past summer for better working conditions. Apparently, other issues pertaining to the poor working conditions were already present even before the pandemic. The strike was not even related to the more hazardous working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many issues that need to be resolved, and it is hard to predict if these issues will persist and for how long. Many drivers have reconsidered their careers, implying that they may not return to work for these ride-sharing services. In a piece addressing the ride-share shortage back in September, AskMoney pointed out that drivers were not necessarily just taking a break from driving because of the pandemic. In some cases, they were moving on to new careers because they feel uncertain about their own safety, together with their family and passenger’s safety, since their employers are doing nothing to help protect public health.
All of these issues put together are leading to longer waiting times, and now prices are rising by up to 79% in some cities. It remains unknown whether or not these problems will be solved. It would be great to enjoy the fast and convenient Uber and Lyft services at reasonable rates again. Of course, this pandemic has done nothing to the industry but make it one of the less appealing careers.
Yes, some companies have worked to improve both working conditions and employee protection, but is it good enough to make drivers want to come back to the ride-sharing service business? Only time will tell, and we will definitely know the results by observing the fees we pay and the time it takes for our next Uber or Lyft ride to arrive.