Cost of Uber and Lyft rides up 40% amid driver shortage as lockdowns ease

<p>Uber has agreed to recognise a trade union for the first time in a landmark deal </p> (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Uber has agreed to recognise a trade union for the first time in a landmark deal

(Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Uber and Lyft ride prices are up 40 per cent ahead of the Memorial Day as people feel more comfortable traveling with coronavirus restrictions easing across the country.

Compounding the increase in travelers is a shortage of drivers and a scarcity of rental cars for travelers.

"Today my Uber ride from Midtown to JFK cost me as much as my flight from JFK to SFO," one ride-share customer posted on Twitter.

Prices have been skyrocketing for weeks. Another Uber customer claimed their ride from JFK International Airport to Times Square would have cost them $147.

He noted that taking a cab, with tip, was less than half that cost.

In addition to high prices, some customers have reported long wait times for cars.

USA Today reported that a Lyft car took 45 minutes to reach Boca Raton from the nearby airport, and the couple who booked the ride said it cost them more than double what it would have before the pandemic.

The customer, Danielle DiMarino, told USA Today she also experienced long wait times at airports in New York, Orlando, Dallas and Phoenix.

Travel has surged alongside the rise in the number of Americans who have received the coronavirus vaccines.

More than 37m Americans are expected to travel over the holiday weekend, according to AAA estimates.

As a result, ride-share companies say they are struggling to keep up with the demand.

"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," a spokesperson for Lyft told FOX Business Network.

In an earnings call on 4 May, Lyft said it was focused on increasing the number of available drivers for its service in order to meet the surge in demand.

Uber has also struggled with a driver shortage.

Spokeswoman Becky Katz Davis told USA Today that "many drivers" stopped working during the pandemic while people were staying inside and businesses were closed.

Javi Correoso, a spokesman for Uber, told WPTV that the company is trying to combat the shortage by enacting a $250m stimulus package aimed at offering higher pay for drivers.

"Drivers who averaged 20 hours a week driving on the Uber platform are now averaging about $31 on the hour for those drivers who average 20 hours a week," Mr Correoso said. "Prior to the incentives package, that numbers was closer to $24 to $25."

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