Katie Couric Explains Why Uber And Lyft Prices Are Up, And The Number Of Drivers Are Down

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Finding an Uber or Lyft these days may more of an undertaking than you might think. (Getty Images)

Hitching a Ride

Have you found it difficult or pricey to grab an Uber or Lyft lately? You’re in good company: The number of drivers has plunged during the pandemic, even as cities start to recover and more people look for rides (paywall). 

By the numbers: There were roughly 54,000 ride-hail drivers in New York this past April, compared with 79,000 in February 2020, according to one transportation analyst. This could be because a lot of ride-hailing employees filed for unemployment during the shutdown, and found jobs elsewhere.  

The result: The drop in the number of drivers has led to a serious hike in fares. Prices have surged as much as 40% across the U.S. this past year. Sunny Madra, who visited NYC in late May, told the NYT that an Uber to the airport cost him almost as much as his $262 plane ticket. 

Are higher fares here to stay? That depends. Ride-hailing companies expect the price surge to be a temporary problem as cities continue to reopen, and offered $250 million in bonuses and incentives to recruit more drivers nationwide. 

Still, others believe these higher rates aren’t going anywhere. “They (price increases) are part of the long-term business plans for the major ride-sharing companies,” consumer advocate Christopher Elliott told the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram

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