Ride-sharing companies have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Lyft is preparing for an autonomous driving future by trailing self-driving BMW 5 Series robotaxis and working with Motion to launch an autonomous robotaxi service in 2023. Currently, the ride-sharing segment has been hit hard by the global pandemic in stark contrast to the auto industry. Traditional manufacturers reporting record sales since factories have restarted production.
According to Forbes, Lyft and Uber are experiencing severe driver shortages at a time when demand for rides is increasing as lockdown restrictions begin to ease and more people get vaccinated. While we're used to rides appearing in a few minutes, some customers have been unable to get a ride for over an hour. As a result, both companies are resorting to desperate measures to get drivers back on the road.
Uber has announced a $250 million "driver stimulus" package that increases earnings for new and returning drivers. For example, an Uber driver can now earn $1,100 for completing 115 trips in Austin. Uber says the plan is "likely a temporary situation," as earnings will return to pre-Covid levels when more drivers hit the road. Lyft, on the other hand, is offering up to $800 in bonuses for referring former drivers back onto the app.
"In 2020, many drivers stopped driving because they couldn't count on getting enough trips to make it worth their time. In 2021, there are more riders requesting trips than there are drivers available to give them, making it a great time to be a driver," said Dennis Cinelli, Uber Vice President Mobility in the US and Canada, in a blog post.
According to research by Edison Trends, customer spending on Uber and Lyft has increased by 30 percent from February to March, but driver shortages have meant the ride sharing companies have been struggling to keep up with the demand. The Rideshare Guy, a blog for gig workers, notes that there's simply little incentive for drivers to go back to Uber or Lyft. Right now, gig-less workers can receive $300 per week in unemployment benefits under the most recent stimulus bill. And many are still waiting to get a vaccination before they feel safe coming into regular contact with passengers.