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With gas prices soaring, Uber adds a customer surcharge to help offset fuel costs for drivers

The company said it will charge riders an additional 45 cents to 55 cents per trip beginning March 16

An Uber at Oakland International Airport in February. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)
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SAN FRANCISCO — As gas prices soar to record levels, ride-hailing giant Uber said it is implementing a first-of-its-kind fuel surcharge to offset the rising costs for its U.S. drivers.

Uber said Friday that it plans to implement the 45-to-55-cent charges on ride-hailing trips beginning March 16, along with a 35-to-45-cent fee on Uber Eats deliveries. The fees will remain in place for at least two months, the company said, and will vary within those price ranges according how long trips extend and the gas price increases in each market.

The price of gas has soared in response to supply concerns stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The AAA said Friday’s recorded average price was the highest on record, at more than $4.33 a gallon nationally, compared with nearly $2.83 a year ago.

In California, the largest U.S. market for gig work, the price was more than $5.72 per gallon on average.

“We know drivers and couriers are feeling the sting of record-high prices at the pump, so we’re rolling out a temporary fuel surcharge to help,” said Liza Winship, Uber’s head of driver operations for the United States and Canada, in a statement. “This consumer surcharge will apply to each ride or delivery and will vary by location, with 100% going directly to drivers and couriers.”

Winship said the company will “continue to listen to feedback and may make changes in the future.”

You may be paying more for Uber, but drivers aren’t getting their cut of the fare hike

Uber emphasized that the fees were not intended to cover the cost of filling up itself — but rather to offset the increases for the time being. Uber does not cover the cost of gas, vehicle maintenance or wear-and-tear that might be associated with the mileage its drivers register while using the app.

Uber said the fuel surcharge would not apply in New York City, where it operates under a different set of regulations and a March 1 increase in driver minimum earnings would help offset the rising costs.

Drivers have taken to social media, petitions and the news media to voice their concerns about rising fuel prices.

Where have all the Uber drivers gone?

Ben Valdez, a Los Angeles-based volunteer driver and organizer with the group Rideshare Drivers United, said drivers would probably need more assistance. He pointed out that a driver would have to complete around 10 trips, for example, to pay for a gallon of gas through the new fees.

“Drivers aren’t the only people feeling the crunch from gas prices, so there’s a lot of people who can sympathize and relate,” he said.

Valdez said the gas prices have left him driving less, wary of the fuel costs eating into his earnings.

“It just makes me more particular in when and where I drive,” he said. “The only time I’d really want to work is if there’s a major event or if [the fares are] surging … It’s definitely frustrating.”