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NYC Uber drivers protest rising gas prices, demand relief

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

New York City Uber drivers protested outside the company's Manhattan headquarters on Tuesday, demanding that the company create a "fuel surcharge" to compensate for rising gas prices.

Inflation, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and supply constraints have collided with rising demand for gasoline as the world returns to the pre-pandemic normal, sending prices at the pump skyward. The national average price for a gallon of gas was $4.24 on Tuesday, which is 50% more expensive compared to last year and 17% higher than last month, according to the American Automobile Association.

Drivers in the rideshare industry say they are getting priced out of profits between paying for gas and sharing what they make with the company.

“Before I used to fill up my tank for $50. Now it’s $70,” protester Wasim Miya told the New York Post. “It’s very hard for drivers. It’s not even worth it to work more because you are using more gas.”

Earlier in March, both Uber and its competitor Lyft announced they would add a surcharge in response to rising gas prices. Uber tacked on a $0.45 to $0.55 fee per trip and Uber Eats deliveries added a $0.35 to $0.45 surcharge. These fees are temporary and will last for at least two months, the company said.

But drivers say this is not enough.

A survey conducted by "The Rideshare Guy," a blog and podcast for rideshare drivers, found that 43% of Uber and Lyft drivers say they're driving less or have quit their jobs because gas is too expensive, despite the surcharge.

“Many drivers say that the fuel surcharges are not enough and they would have preferred to see a per-mile surcharge to account for the increased fuel expenditure on long trips instead of a flat fee,” said Harry Campbell, founder and CEO of "The Rideshare Guy."

With no hope of relief from the city government, drivers want rideshare companies to take a smaller commission from rides and charge passengers a higher surcharge to help cover the cost of gas.

“In a usual day when you book $200, you take $100, today you[‘re] taking $50 or $60 because all the money is going into buying gas,” said another driver, Jahon Gir.

Gir and other fed-up Uber drivers formed a caravan with their vehicles, driving across the Brooklyn Bridge to the company's headquarters on the West Side of Manhattan, then going to the World Trade Center. They carried signs saying things like "Need Money 4 Gas" and "Gas Prices Are Killing Our Income!"

“I have a wife and six kids. Inflation is so high. I’m feeling the squeeze,” said Pedro Acosta. "Our money is going nowhere because of the gas prices. We need some increase.”

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