Ride-Hailing Prices Skyrocket as the U.S. Emerges From the Pandemic

A shortage of drivers and spiking demand are driving Uber and Lyft prices higher than ever as the companies struggle to achieve profitability.

2 minute read

June 15, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


New York City

ant D / Shutterstock

A "perfect storm of extremely high demand and extremely low supply" is driving prices for ride-hailing services to all-time highs, reports Alissa Walker in Curbed. "The labor shortage is not unique to ride-hailing, but the situation is particularly dire right now at Uber and Lyft, where morale among its gig workers is low."

In New York City, the shortage is compounded by similar problems in the taxi industry. "There are two-thirds fewer cabs on New York City streets — only 3,500 per day compared to 10,500 before the pandemic — and it’s not clear how many of those taxis will ever return." Meanwhile, New Yorkers are filling the gap with lesser-known options like Via and The Drivers Cooperative

Mobility advocates hope that the current reckoning will highlight the problems with Uber's unsustainable business model and encourage people to seek other alternatives. "'Uber has been losing billions of dollars for years and years,' says Robin Chase, founder of the New Urban Mobility Alliance." It seems like the days of the "Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy," when techy startups funded by venture capitalists "allowed us to live Balenciaga lifestyles on Banana Republic budgets," are over. According to Chase, "[r]aising their prices is the only way they’ll ever break even or become profitable."

While New Yorkers bought more cars during the pandemic, they also sought out biking and transit options. "Citi Bike posted two all-time daily ridership records on back-to-back days last month," says Walker. "With summer weather ahead, shared scooters soon to hit streets, and 24/7 subway service restored, maybe a few months of high Uber prices won’t be the worst thing for New York."

Friday, June 4, 2021 in Curbed

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Green meadow with water running through and trees on either side in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Meadow Undergoing Major Restoration

Rangeland recently acquired from private owners is being restored to a more natural state thanks to a purchase by the Trust for Public Land.

June 17 - San Francisco Chronicle

Large black SYV driving down city street with blurred background.

GAO to Investigate How Vehicle Design Impacts Safety

A lax set of rules around vehicle size, height, and other factors is partly responsible for the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States.

June 17 - Streetsblog USA

Worker in yellow safety suit holding up orange SLOW sign on road

New Orleans Faces $1 Billion Shortfall for FEMA-Funded Roadwork

After years of delays, cost overruns, and deadline extensions on a FEMA-funded street repair program, New Orleans officials face a massive funding shortfall and accusations of mismanagement.

June 17 - NOLA.com

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.