Record High Gas Prices Cause Desperation Among Uber and Lyft Drivers: IDG Member Lyudmila Melnik Speaks Out

10 May 2022

Soaring gas prices are squeezing transportation businesses and setting off debates about who will foot the bill.

FedEx Corp., Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. imposed new or higher fuel surcharges on customers after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shocked energy markets. But local contractors who own the FedEx Ground delivery trucks and some U.S. drivers of the ride-share services are pleading with the companies for even more financial help.

“Everywhere you look is just expenses, expenses, expenses,” said Melnik Lyudmila, a 51-year-old who quit driving for Uber and Lyft last month. The companies have tapered the big bonuses they handed to drivers at the height of a labor shortage last year, so she said the hours she spends behind the wheel aren’t worth the payout. Ms. Lyudmila, who has driven for the companies in New York City since 2016, is looking for other jobs as she waits for gas prices to fall. 

On Tuesday, New York City-based driver group Justice for App Workers circulated an online petition it plans to send to top Uber and Lyft executives. The group is demanding that the companies cap their rate at 10% so drivers get a bigger slice of fares. Uber said its average global take rate for rides in the fourth quarter was 20%. Lyft doesn’t disclose its rate. 

“Our workplace expenses have gone up across the board, not only when it comes to paying for gas, but for car and bike maintenance, rental payments, insurance and more,” said the petition, which had more than 5,000 signatures by Friday. “App workers are suffering—going into debt, falling behind on bills, even leaving the industry altogether.”