Monroe County

Rochester has shortage of Uber and Lyft drivers as demand increases

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — If you’ve tried to use a ride-share service like Uber or Lyft recently, you may have noticed a couple of things: there are either no cars available, or they’re a lot more expensive than normal.
“I don’t know if the demand has just gone up that much, and there’s not enough to cover, or some people have walked away,” says Uber driver Marty Roth.
As it turns out, it’s a combination of both. Many drivers decided to take a break from driving during the pandemic for health and safety reasons. Now, as more and more people are getting the vaccine and getting more comfortable going out in public, the demand for rides is increasing but the number of drivers has not kept up.
“Luckily over the past month or so as people have begun to get vaccinated and it’s sort of safer to go out again, we’ve seen a significant rebound in the number of people who are getting out, going to bars, going to restaurants, seeing their loved ones, going to the airport,” says Harry Hartfield, public affairs manager for Uber.
“There’s a lot of people looking to call Ubers, and not that many Ubers on the road,” says Hartfield. “So it’s actually been a really good time for drivers to make a lot of money.”
Roth is one of those drivers, who says he’s noticed the increase in demand from behind the wheel.
“As soon as I pick one passenger up and get in motion, it’s already flashing on my screen for the next passenger,” says Roth. “I’m busy. I’m happy to be busy, you know, I’m not gonna complain.”
Drivers like Roth aren’t complaining about the boom in business, but the same is not true for passengers. Some passengers have reported wait times over an hour, and prices two or three times the normal amount.
“We’ve heard in Rochester but across the state from a lot of people who are saying it’s very hard to get an Uber and we want to fix that problem,” says Hartfield.
Lyft is also trying to fix that problem. In a statement sent to News10NBC, a spokesperson for Lyft said: “We’re working to meet demand, including providing incentives to drivers, who are busier and earning more than they were even before the pandemic.”
Drivers say many of their recent rides have been bringing people back to and from work and taking people to area malls to go shopping.
If you know you’re going to need a ride in the near future, the best thing you can do to ensure you reach your destination on time is to schedule your ride ahead of time. Both Uber and Lyft have features that allow you to schedule rides in advance.
With COVID restrictions continuing to loosen up, and festival season right around the corner in Rochester, rideshare drivers are eager to see what summer will bring.
“The way things are going, with the summer coming on, it’s … it’s gonna be insane,” says Roth.
Uber is offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives for drivers to meet the rising demand.

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