Gas prices hit Uber and Lyft drivers struggling to keep tanks full

Mar 9, 2022, 6:17 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Drivers for ride-share companies Uber and Lyft didn’t know how much longer they could keep their tanks full Wednesday after gas prices jumped again and President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports.

Filling up to get to work is one thing. But when you have to fill up to keep working there’s no room for an empty tank.

“Yeah, it started out good,” said Karen Mathis, referring to her full-time job driving. “I love my job. I love my customers.”

For five years, through ups and downs, Karen Mathis has stayed behind the wheel as an Uber driver. In recent months she’s even renewed her efforts to get her own private driving business going.

But now she worries gas prices could get in the way.

Prices have been increasing for months. AAA reports the average price of a gallon of gas in Utah one year ago was $2.82. But over the last few days prices at the pump have really jumped.

According to AAA, the average price of regular gas has jumped about 70 cents in the last week — 35 cents in the last two days to $4.19.

The highest recorded average of a gallon of gas in the state is $4.22 and was set back in July 2008. According to GasBuddy, we’ve already broken that record.

“It’s crazy! It’s like every day I go to the gas pump and it’s up,” Mathis said.

Mathis says she used to pay about $50 a day on gas. Now she spends closer to $100 on gas every day.

The prices have left many drivers wondering whether the price to pick up their passengers is worth the price to fill up their tanks.

“So, you think about time and the gas it consumes. This vehicle only takes premium. So, there’s hardly any profit for my time and it is a lot of wear and tear on the vehicle,” said Kimmy Soth, who has been driving for Lyft for about four months to make extra money on the side.

“We hope to continue but if the price continues to go up on gas, you will see less drivers. That’s for sure.”

Raid Alhaddad has been driving full-time for Uber and Lyft for five years. Now he’s debating whether to walk away.

“I can’t do anything. Maybe I got to lose my job. This is so hard for me,” he said.

“I’m not going to work every day for $50 because everything’s expensive. Not just gas, you know. Everything is up. Rent. The price is up. Groceries.”

In a statement to KSL, Lyft said, “We care deeply about the driver experience and we’ve taken concrete steps to help given rising gas prices.”

“Our investments in programs like our GetUpside partnership and the Lyft Direct cashback debit card are designed to directly save drivers money at the pump. We’ll continue to explore other ways to help the driver community.”

Uber also responded to KSL’s inquiry, writing, “We know higher prices at the pump can be a challenge, which is why we recently launched a new feature that helps drivers save up to 25¢ per gallon through cashback with GetUpSide.

“Our platform only works if it works for drivers, so we’ll continue to monitor gas prices and listen to drivers over the coming weeks.”

Still, with no end in sight to the daily increases at gas stations, Mathis doesn’t know how much longer she can keep her tank full.

“What can you do? You either find another job or just deal with it. And keep working and hope for the best that this will all end.”

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Gas prices hit Uber and Lyft drivers struggling to keep tanks full