Boston Gets Hit Hard With Ride-Hailing App Shortages

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Commonwealth is beginning to return to normal, however finding a ride home after a night out is not so easy. An issue many people have run into is finding an available Uber or Lyft driver.

After public transit shuts down for the evening, many turn to the Lyft and Uber apps to get where they need to go; whether it is their home, the airport, school, or work.

In a pre-pandemic world, rideshare apps were readily available at almost any hour of the day. Now, drivers and riders alike agree the demand drastically outweighs the supply.

According to a Boston-based market intelligence service, Apptopia, the number of US-based drivers logging into Uber during the first three months of 2021 was down 37.5 percent year over year. Also, Lyft saw a 42.3 percent drop over the same period of time.

While this is a nationwide shortage, Boston is having one of the hardest times adjusting.

A 2015 snowstorm shutdown forced public transit to stop, which was a catalyst for this issue. The outrageous surge prices on Uber and Lyft during the storm prompted a law to be passed in 2016. Under Massachusetts law, surge pricing is banned during a state of emergency.

Massachusetts’ current state of emergency for COVID-19 isn’t being lifted until June 15.

The Baker administration stated they would modify the blanket ban. "Enabling surge pricing under certain circumstances and with appropriate limitations could increase the supply of drivers, which reduces wait times and ensures reliable transportation options."

However, Baker's solution will not necessarily solve this shortage; a majority of drivers filed for unemployment last spring. Drivers realized their unemployment checks were a similar amount, if not more, to when they were working for a rideshare service.

Or drivers shifted to delivery services such as DoorDash or InstaCart, which pay at a comparable rate but avoid any danger or complications— such as reckless or drunk passengers.

In April, Uber launched a $250 million driver stimulus to boost incentives and "help welcome existing drivers back to Uber and ensure first-time drivers do well as they learn the ropes."

Uber reported that Boston drivers make a median $26.59 per hour.

WBZ NewsRadio's Madison Rogers (@MadisonWBZ) reports:

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Written by Edyn Jensen

(Photo: Getty Images)

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