Driver shortage blamed for higher ride-share fares

If you’ve used Uber or Lyft lately, you may have noticed fares are much higher than normal. Both companies said it’s partly because of a driver shortage and a sudden increase in demand.

With more people becoming vaccinated, the demand for ride-sharing has seen a surge, but the supply of drivers is slow to return.

Prior to the pandemic, a trip from Tampa to St. Pete -- depending on the day and time -- might cost around $30. When FOX 13 checked Tuesday afternoon, fares on Uber were around $67. Lyft's fare for a priority pick-up was listed at more than $130. 

"In the next one to two months, I'm moving here. That's how lucrative it's been," Uber driver Naeem Laramore said.

Laramore is based in Orlando, but he drives to Tampa every day to drive for Uber. He says he's never been so busy.

"The demand is just by the time you're dropping that person off you already have your next ride," Laramore said.

Laramore has been with Uber for five years. With fewer drivers and more riders, he never has to wait for a ride to come in meaning there's no downtime. He says he's gone from making around $600 per week to more than $2,000 per week.

"We’re seeing big increases in demand for rides as vaccines roll out and people get ready to start moving again," a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement emailed to FOX 13. "That’s great news for drivers, who are busier and earning more than they were even before the pandemic."

Uber is seeing the same.

"As more people are vaccinated, demand from customers has increased which has caused longer wait times. We're working to bring more drivers and delivery people onto the road," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement emailed to FOX 13.

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Meanwhile, Laramore -- who initially juggled Uber with a restaurant job -- says the money now has him driving full-time. 

"I don't stress anymore. I've actually taken three vacations in January, February and March. I'm going on my fourth vacation now because of Tampa Uber. Now will it stay like this forever? I don't know, but while it's here, I'm here," Laramore added.

A spokesperson for Uber says some drivers may not be coming back yet because they could be waiting to vaccinated. That why they say they're working to try and get priority for their drivers. They're also offering financial incentives to try and get drivers back, but until then you can expect to pay more.