Despite the classification of carpooling drivers as “essential workers” during the first days of the pandemic, last April Uber’s business has fallen by 80%. Drivers decided they preferred not to risk contracting or spreading COVID-19 for the meager income generated from the few commutes they received, so when federal CARES law extended unemployment assistance in the event of pandemic to scene workers, many Uber drivers have decided to suspend. their keys.
With over a quarter of the U.S. population already vaccinatedUber is now in a tight spot where there are more passengers requesting trips than drivers available. The cycling giant not only wants drivers to know there is business to be done again, but they also want to sweeten the deal with incentives.
On Wednesday, the company announced the launch of a $ 250 million incentive program to re-welcome and recruit new drivers as the pandemic begins to ease in the U.S. Returning drivers and drivers new drivers will receive bonuses over the next few months, according to a spokesperson for Uber.
“In 2020, many drivers stopped driving because they couldn’t count on enough trips to make it worth it,” read the blog post announcing the relaunch. “In 2021, there are more cyclists requesting trips than there are drivers available to offer them, which makes this a great time to be a driver.”
Due to high passenger demand and low number of drivers, the current median hourly rate for cities like Philadelphia, Austin, Chicago, Miami and Phoenix is $ 26.66, which is 25% to 75% higher than in March of last year. Uber wants drivers to enjoy the higher incomes now because “this is probably a temporary situation.” This means that as the country recovers and more and more existing workers get back behind the wheel, incomes are likely to decline from their current levels.
The stimulus money will be added to those hourly rates, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. The incentive structure will be based on individual activity, as well as location. For example, in Austin, current drivers are guaranteed $ 1,100 if they make 115 trips. In Phoenix, they can earn an additional $ 1,775 for 200 trips.
“We will have more guarantees in these two cities as well as in all of the other markets that we are targeting in the United States – the dollar and the travel amounts may just change slightly depending on local factors,” the spokesperson said.
The money will also go towards the guaranteed minimum wage and the onboarding of new Uber drivers, and tThe full $ 250 million pool comes straight from Uber’s pockets. The company’s shares were down 3.6% in Wednesday’s trading.
Uber also aims to help streamline the driver vaccination process with an in-app booking portal as part of its partnership with Walgreens.
This story has been updated to clarify that the example incentives for Austin and Phoenix refer to financial guarantees offered to current drivers in recent weeks.