Skip to main content

Rideshare Driver Demand

‘We Want To Go Out’: Chicago Rideshare Drivers Are In Demand As Customers Pay More For Dwindling Supply

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.

READ MORE:Chicago Weather: Cool Weather Continues; Frost Advisory South Of Chicago

Jay Barksdale was making a familiar trip to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“I was going to see my hand doctor,” Barksdale said. “Usually 8 o’clock in the morning.”

It’s normally a $12 to $16 dollars Uber ride. Jay’s receipt for the same trip two weeks ago was $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 are leaving home now, but as CBS 2’s Williams reported on Monday, fewer drivers are available.

“Fear, honestly and truly fear,” said rideshare driver Jeanette Finn.

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 explained that the business model of rideshare companies plays a role in why there has been a driver shortage.

“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.”

READ MORE:Churches, Community Groups Hold Mother's Day Ceremony For Justice For Black And Brown People Killed By Police

Customers are looking for alternatives:

“You’ve got have plan A, plan B, and plan C,” Barksdale said.

For 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.

And one transportation expert said we should not expect fares to come down until more drivers hit the streets.

“We’ve had a faster recovery in riders than we’ve had in drivers,” said Dr. Hani Mahmassani, Director of Northwestern University’s Transportation Center. “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. Lyft sent this 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 also had a breakdown of information regarding drivers and what they make:

• Drivers have seen an increase in hourly earnings such that they now make an average of $31 per hour. That’s in a market where 96% Lyft drivers of drivers have other jobs or are students. The increased earnings, the insider, said can enable drivers to use their rideshare as their main or secondary source of income.

• Meanwhile, 21% of drivers in Chicago reported that they drove more during the pandemic because they were laid off, furloughed, or had their pay cut because of COVID-19, making the income they receive from rideshare driving critical.

• The insider said the heightened demand also comes as ride volumes increase, resulting in higher prices in weight times as rideshare companies urge drivers to go to areas with increased demand. With upfront pricing on platforms such as Lyft, the insider said, riders are alerted when it is busy and are asked to accept the price before they request their rides.

Uber spokesman Robert Kellman issued the following statement:

MORE NEWS:Man Shot, Critically Wounded In Gompers Park On Northwest Side

“As more people are vaccinated, demand from customers has increased. We’re working to bring more drivers and delivery people onto the road.”

Back to top