Increased rates and wait times for rideshare apps happening in East TN


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A low supply of rideshare drivers and high demand for them is causing rates to rise and wait times to increase, according to drivers.

An Uber spokesperson said the shortage of drivers is a nationwide issue, and although they didn’t look at Knoxville specifically, they said they expected the overall status to be the same. They said the main reason for the driver shortage is because drivers haven’t come back to the platform since the pandemic.

In response to asking about driver shortages and rate increases, a Lyft spokesperson said the following:

“We’re seeing big increases in demand for rides, as vaccines roll out and people 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.”

Spokesperson for Lyft

David Wilson, a driver for Uber, has been driving for the rideshare app for two years. He said he didn’t work for one month during the pandemic, because he wanted to see how the process was going to work out. Wilson could tell there were fewer drivers on the road then.

“The only difference I could tell was the distances on my rides were maybe longer. You know, which was good for me,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he only drives for Uber part time, so a few days a week, about six hours a shift. He said because of that he has noticed a big difference. But, he did say he almost always gets another ride by the time he’s dropping a customer off.

He said he doesn’t really pay attention to what the riders have to pay, but he knows that rideshare services work like most industries. So when the supply is low and the demand is high, the prices go up. He said the rate increases now are like when the rates increase for big events.

“It has to do with demand. Ok, like let’s say if we have a football game or baseball game tonight, and depending on how many Uber drivers they are out, see it will, it goes up. It goes on supply and demand just like anything else,” Wilson said.

Wilson said from what he’s noticed, the driver’s pay hasn’t gone down. In fact, he said, he’s been making more money since the pandemic.

He said when riders are charged a higher rate, drivers get the same percentage they always receive–which means he technically gets paid more for a more expensive ride.

Even if a rider has to pay more or wait longer, Wilson said it’s worth it if you plan on drinking. “$40, I mean, it is a lot. Id’ say it. But, if you want to versus it going to jail, and paying $10,000 to get out of it, it’s a pretty good idea.”

The spokesperson for Uber said the prices for riders depend on the time of day and the number of drivers on the road. According to the spokesperson, Uber is actively trying to hire more drivers to meet the demand. Wilson said he has noticed more drivers get back on the apps recently.

The spokesperson said Uber is working to make drivers feel more comfortable with mask requirements still in place, helping drivers get vaccinated and offering financial incentives.

Both the spokespeople for Uber and Lyft said drivers are making now more than pre-pandemic.

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