When the pandemic hit, Uber drivers struggled as their business and tourism customers dropped and fears of COVID-19 grew. Now, with vaccination rates rising, Uber is offering signing bonuses and better terms in an attempt to lure drivers back to work.
Automotive News reported on Tuesday (June 1) that as more drivers are gradually getting back on the roads, there has been a modest decrease in passenger wait times. The international ride-hailing giant said that the week of May 17 saw an increase of 4.4 percent in drivers hitting the road compared to the previous week, the largest such increase since the start of 2021. Uber said 33,000 drivers joined its U.S. platform that week. Most of them had stopped working last year when the COVID-19 crisis hit.
“With the economy bouncing back, drivers are returning to Uber in force to take advantage of higher earnings opportunities from our driver stimulus, while they are still available,” Carrol Chang, Uber’s head of U.S. and Canada driver operations, said in a statement.
In April, Uber said it would invest $250 million to boost driver earnings and offer payment guarantees. As a result, drivers’ median hourly earnings in several U.S. cities exceeded $35 before tips, Uber said. Those incentives are temporary, and pay will drop to pre-COVID-19 levels as more drivers return to the platform.
Uber does not offer the same benefits to drivers that it does for other employees.
According to Uber’s most recent 8-K filing, gross bookings in March reached their highest monthly level in the company’s nearly 12-year history. As a result, Uber has been dealing with the problems of success, as there are not enough drivers on the road to satisfy customers in terms of timeliness and price.
“Incentives and guarantees will help welcome existing drivers back to Uber and ensure first-time drivers do well as they learn the ropes,” Dennis Cinelli, Uber’s vice president of U.S. and Canada for mobility, said in a blog post.