Rideshare prices surge due to driver shortage

If you've taken a rideshare like Uber or Lyft lately, you probably noticed skyrocketing prices. It's due to a driver shortage.

Rideshare fares are up an average of 40%, according to Rakuten Intelligence. That means a $35 rideshare from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to downtown Houston could cost you $50.

Rideshare prices are surging as people are returning to travel, restaurants and work, while there's a driver shortage.

"When there are not enough drivers on the road in any given area, there's something called Surge that happens on Uber, and on Lyft it's called Primetime, and that causes the fares to increase," explained Elijah Bilel, a contributor for The Rideshare Guy blog.


Bilel says the driver shortage is due to the extra $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit and competition from food delivery services.

"A lot of drivers might be more comfortable doing food delivery right now so they're actually still making money," said Bilel.

Uber did not respond to our request for comment.

But Lyft sent us a statement reading:

"We’re seeing big increases in demand for rides, as vaccines roll out and people start moving again. We’re working to meet demand, including providing incentives to drivers, who are busier and earning more than they were even before the pandemic."

Alto is a new ridesharing service in Houston with set rates that has also struggled to hire enough drivers to meet demand.  

"We hired 66 drivers across our three markets last week and that didn't actually hit our full target. We're hiring in Houston, 15 to 20 people every single week," said Alto CEO Will Coleman.  


To avoid surging prices, consider taking transportation with set rates, such as Alto, taxi cabs, or shuttles, or pre-schedule a rideshare.

"Plan in advance by pre-scheduling either with Alto or another provider. In doing that, you'll have more certainty that the vehicle is going to show up when you actually need it," said Coleman.  

Or compare ridesharing prices for your particular destination from their apps.

"If you actually compare the various options you have, go with what's cheaper because they both may not be surging in prime time at the same time," said Bilel.


Lyft has a feature called Wait & Save. If you opt for a longer wait time, you'll get a lower fare.

And an app called Migo says it can help you compare prices for all your transportation options.