Nov 29, 2021 - Business

Austin's Uber and Lyft riders face higher prices, delays

A photo of a sticker reading "Lyft" on the back window of a car.
Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Feeling like the prices of your Austin Uber rides have been extraordinarily high?

You're not imagining things: Rides this fall on Lyft and Uber cost about a third higher than they were pre-pandemic.

The big picture: It's not just Austin, but data shows prices are slightly elevated in Central Texas compared to other areas. Much of the country is experiencing this mismatched equation of supply and demand for ride-hailing services.

  • Uber and Lyft riders in Austin are still facing a bump in prices and longer wait times as the companies cope with driver shortages.

What they're saying: "As vaccines rolled out and people started moving again, we began to see the demand for rides outpace the number of available drivers," a spokesperson for Lyft told Axios in an email.

  • "We've added thousands of drivers to the platform and expect rider wait times and prices to improve moving forward. For drivers, it continues to be a great time to drive with drivers in top markets earning significantly more than they were pre-pandemic."

The rise in demand led to a price spike, but so far, consumers are willing to pay more per trip, per an analysis by research firm YipitData.

Email receipt data analyzed in October found that ride-share prices are still elevated in the Austin metro area and remain slightly higher than the rest of the country.

  • Ride receipts show that Austin fares were 35% higher this October than they were in October 2019. Austin fares peaked in May 2021, when they were 40% higher than in May 2019.
  • The email receipts, which show the amount charged and the distance driven in miles, include taxes, tolls and other fees. The figures exclude tips and only include UberX and standard Lyft individual auto rides.

In Lyft's latest earnings call, the company reported a bump in new driver growth, up 60% year-over-year. Active drivers in the third quarter also increased by roughly 45% compared to last year.

  • Lyft also reported that drivers saw 20% more rides on average in the third quarter compared to the same time in 2019. The company does not release regional or state figures.

Uber did not return Axios' requests for comment.

1 tip to go: Lyft's "Wait and Save" function allows riders to opt for longer wait times, but pay lower fares than a standard ride.

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