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Rideshare companies experiencing driver shortage

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 2:12 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - This time last year, rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber saw a 65 percent decrease in its drivers, as safety concerns related to COVID-19 rose.

Now, with businesses and restaurants reopening, there’s a shortage of rides for the number of people requesting them.

Many of the drivers I spoke to said they stopped their rideshare job out of worries for their families safety when COVID-19 hit the Bismarck area.

As case numbers declined and vaccines became available, some got back in the driver’s seat, while others found new work. Kristie Butler averaged 40 hours a week behind the wheel before the coronavirus made her stop.  

“The decision was the health of my father, the wellbeing of my mother. I was in their home daily and I just couldn’t bring the public into their home, so I just stopped completely,” said Butler.

Karen Hedstrom also pulled back from her duties in March of last year.

“I was slow, because I was kind of nervous. I did it as needed if I need the extra cash,” said Hedstrom.

Both women took six months off before returning to the app. However, not many of their colleagues joined.

“There’s not enough drivers. Everyone who gets in the car says they’re grateful, but it’s really hard to get a driver,” said Hedstrom.

They say the demand for rides is up, but their usual income has declined.

“Prior to the pandemic I could count on tips as income, and now I don’t count on them at all,” said Butler.

With a shortage of drivers, riders are being left. “I feel guilty when I have to quit, but I’m tired and I don’t want to screw up. But I know there are still people that need rides,” said Hedstrom.

Both Lyft and Uber are offering drivers temporary bonuses with the hope of recruiting new employees and bringing back the old.

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