PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An undetermined number of Uber drivers in Pittsburgh have joined other Uber drivers around the nation in a Valentine’s Day weekend protest of lower fares announced by the California-based company.
Cynthia Ingram, of Carnegie, has been driving for Uber and Lyft, two popular ride-sharing app-based programs, for the past nine months.
Ingram liked the idea of setting her own hours and she made decent money.
But, then, the bottom fell out.
She told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti Friday night, “Uber dropped its rates, and Lyft had no choice but to drop theirs.”
Ingram was one of a few Uber drivers we found at Pittsburgh International Airport Friday night.
But, with two fare reductions announced by Uber in recent months, she finds herself working twice as long to try to make ends meet.
“I’m just working more hours now so I can get to the point of what I was making last July and August, which is about 70 hours a week,” Ingram said. “Before I was working 40 hours a week, and making around $1,000.”
Another Uber driver, Jill Nixon, of Oakdale, said, “We want to feed our families, that’s what this is about. I’m not a charity; I love what I do. I really, really enjoy my work. I turned my app off since the last cut. I couldn’t afford to work for them anymore.”
Uber released a statement defending lowering the rates in Pittsburgh:
“Seasonality affects every business and Uber is no exception. When demand goes down in the winter months, lower prices means more business for drivers. So far it’s working: since we made this change, drivers are doing 23% more trips every hour. If, for whatever reason, drivers are making less money, we’ve instituted hourly fare guarantees as high as $25/hr in fares during peak times. Price cuts need to work for drivers, so if there is an impact on earnings in the long run, we’ll consider reversing the price cuts as we’ve done in other cities.”
While Uber drivers push for changes and a separate tip option on the Uber app, there’s word that Pittsburgh will soon be getting another ride sharing app. It’s already on the web, called RideVIP.
Unlike Uber and Lyft, RideVIP will be locally operated. It’s a subsidiary of 3 Rivers Transportation, and it’s supposed to start up in the next month or so.