Uber, Lyft Drivers Rally for Higher Pay, Other Changes as Gas Prices Soar

Uber and Lyft drivers want the companies to make changes to how they’re paid, among other complaints.

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Instead of picking up rides, some local rideshare drivers spent their day rallying Wednesday.

They want Uber and Lyft to make changes to how they’re paid, among other complaints, as drivers pay record high prices at the pump.

NBC Connecticut heard from participating drivers who say they’re frustrated that they can’t negotiate pay and fees with the app companies during these costly times.

We reached out to both companies who both recognized high costs and say that’s one of the reasons they’ve extended their gas surcharge.

Lyft sent a statement saying, “We recognize the pain drivers are facing at the pump, which is why we have extended our 55-cent fuel charge until further notice. However, we're glad to see that even with higher gas expenses, drivers nationally on Lyft are busier and earning more today than they were a year ago due to rebounding rider demand. We will continue to keep a close eye on gas prices and look for ways to support drivers during this time."

Hayley Prim, policy manager for Uber in Connecticut wrote, “We know drivers are feeling the sting of record-high prices at the pump so we've temporarily extended the gas surcharge on rides trips. Driver earnings also remain very high with drivers who work on our platform more than 20 hours a week earning $39 an hour on average.”

But the dozens of drivers who started their protest in East Hartford and caravanned to the State Capitol Wednesday say the companies should be doing more for the drivers. They say the 55-cent gas surcharge doesn’t cut it, as the payment stays the same no matter the length of the trip.

“The other day I filled my tank. It cost me $125,” said Jason Daniels, a Hartford rideshare driver, shaking his head.

“We are some of the top drivers of this platform. I have a rating of 4.97, 3,000 trips. Over 1,500 trips with a 5-star,” said Mohamed Beltagy of Mystic.

“I’ve done everything I can do to become the best driver on the platform, but I don’t see the returns.”

-Mohamed Beltagy

Drivers also say they're frustrated by varying surcharge fees, which they say are unpredictable and very often, the company gets a cut they just don’t think is fair.

We took two Uber trips Wednesday. One long, slow trip nearing 45 minutes with the rally from East Hartford to Hartford cost us $17.28. In that case, the driver made more than we paid, partly because of an additional promotional credit he received.

Our return trip was a different story. The faster ride cost us under $11 and the driver got about $6.70 of that.

From a regular rider’s eyes, it’s confusing trying to figure out the difference in these fares and we only knew how much the driver made by asking them to show us their receipts.

Uber describes service fees as amounts that “vary per trip; they are not a set percentage,” which helps the company maintain and make technology improvements.

Organizers want drivers to have a say in these fees.

“As you see, like most of us drivers, they are immigrants. It’s their full-time job. It’s not just them, it’s their families and they are kids,” said organizer Sohail Rana, with the Independent Drivers Guild.

Drivers rallying Wednesday are also asking for bathrooms in the cell phone waiting lot at Bradley International Airport.

They say when they pick up or drop off a ride at Bradley, they pay a $2.25 fee.

They say the airport bathrooms are too far to walk to from the cell phone waiting lot and they cannot leave the lot to go to the bathroom without losing their place in the virtual line with other drivers.

CAA tells NBC Connecticut they are evaluating that option.

“Bradley Airport has public restroom facilities in the terminal building that remain available for anyone utilizing the airport. The cell phone waiting lot is a public lot intended for short-term waiting; however, given unfortunate sanitary circumstances that have surfaced and the resulting maintenance burden that has fallen on CAA staff members, the CAA was already evaluating portable toilets to improve the overall cleanliness of the area and improve the facilities to all users of the cell phone waiting lot.”

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