Home Business Uber, Lyft boost driver pay as demand for rides soars

Uber, Lyft boost driver pay as demand for rides soars

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Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft are boosting driver pay in a desperate effort to meet soaring demand for their services as the pandemic wanes.

In some major cities, including Denver and Philadelphia, Lyft drivers are making $44 and $43 an hour respectively, while Uber drivers are making an average $38 an hour in New York City and Philadelphia — not including tips and expenses, an Uber spokesman told The Post.

The pay boost is nearly double what drivers had earned before the pandemic, and sources say it’s due at least in part to financial “incentives” the companies are adding to what drivers might otherwise make from a ride in an effort to convince more gig-economy workers to get back on the road.

Some of the souped up pay may also be from higher fares as Uber and Lyft charge riders based on supply-and-demand algorithms. But Uber last month said it’s set aside $250 million in incentives for drivers. Lyft has also said its offering bonuses, but has not announced a total amount.

Neither company has explained how these incentives or bonuses boost driver pay.

Members of the Independent Drivers Guild rally in support of drivers at Uber and Lyft's NYC headquarters during a 2019 action.
Members of the Independent Drivers Guild rally in support of drivers at Uber and Lyft’s NYC headquarters during a 2019 action.
AFP via Getty Images

Whatever the formula, it now appears that Uber drivers can earn more than $1,000 and close to $2,000 extra if they make anywhere from 100 to 200 trips in a month under the pay perks.

And Lyft drivers now making an average $36 an hour in Lyft’s top 25 markets, compared with $20 before COVID-19, the company told The Post.

El Paso driver, Misty Huffman, who’d worked sporadically for Uber, recently pulled in $1,000 over a weekend, which is more than what she earns as a respiratory therapist, she told Bloomberg.

“The incentives are crazy right now,” she added. 

It’s a big change from before the pandemic when drivers complained about shrinking wages as the two companies slashed fares in an effort to compete. Last year when the pandemic hit, both companies saw ride volumes plummet by more than two thirds, according to the Bloomberg report.

Demand for ride-hailing services has grown amid rising vaccinations.

Lyft’s sales for the week ended March 29 were 80 percent higher than in the first week of the year, and Uber’s rose by 76 percent over the same period, according to Second Measure. 

Uber said March 2021 was its best month since the previous March, when the pandemic began and people stayed put in their homes.

But drivers have been more scarce. Some are reluctant to jeopardize their health by driving strangers around, especially at a time when of increased unemployment benefits. Some drivers may have also found new jobs as the economy has reopened.