Ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft saw a major decline last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A year later, more Americans are getting vaccinated and Uber is offering drivers in the District a $25 million incentive to get back on the road. (Courtesy Photo, Unsplash)

By Daryl Moore
Special to the AFRO

A year ago when the pandemic hit, many drivers stopped driving with ride-share services like Uber and Lyft because they couldn’t count on getting enough trips. However, with more people getting vaccinated and traveling, riders, particularly in metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C. are starting to use Uber more. In an effort to encourage drivers to get back on the road, Uber is launching a driver stimulus of $250 million in the U.S. so drivers can earn even more. 

In the District., Uber is boosting earnings so that any driver working at least 20 hours a week will earn $25.65 per hour. The company is also guaranteeing $1,675 when drivers complete 180 trips. In Baltimore, Uber is increasing earnings so drivers working 20 hours will typically earn $33.28 per hour and are guaranteeing $775 when drivers complete 70 trips. 

A pre-pandemic survey of drivers revealed 24 percent are African-American and 20 percent are Latino, and Uber’s 2020 People and Culture Report showed a 25 percent decrease in the workforce in May 2020. The layoffs, as a result of COVID-19, resulted in a decline in Black representation at the company. 

However, Public Affairs Manager at Uber Michele Blackwell said that drivers reflect the diversity of the communities they drive in, and that the company is committed to diversity and racial equity. Their hope is that this driver stimulus will bring back drivers and ensure they prosper upon their return.

“We are providing guarantees for all returning and new drivers to ensure they will do well on their first time back on the Uber platform,” said Blackwell. “We hope this will help drivers get back on their feet and help riders find drivers when they need them.”

This seems to be addressing a very real rideshare problem. Blackwell said that in 2020, many drivers stopped driving because they couldn’t count on getting enough trips to make it worth their time.  However, after more than a year of shutdowns and staying in, DMV residents are now getting vaccinated, the District is opening up, and more people are riding with Uber. 

“In 2021, there are more riders requesting trips than there are drivers available to give them, making it a great time to be a driver and earn on your own schedule,” Blackwell explained. 

Blackwell also said that Uber wants drivers to take advantage of these higher earnings, while also being assured that Uber is still working to keep them safe by continuing to require that all riders wear face masks and by providing Clorox cleaning supplies. Blackwell said that Uber has also made it easier for drivers to navigate the vaccination process with streamlined appointment booking through their partnership with Walgreens.

“Businesses and governments are opening back up, and D.C., in particular, is a destination for summer travelers,” Blackwell said. “Locals and tourists alike rely on Uber for transportation around the city and to and from airports in the region. We expect to see increasing demand as the weather becomes warmer and riders begin to feel more comfortable using Uber to get around.” 

For more information, visit www.uber.com/newsroom/getting-drivers-back-on-the-road/.