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Rideshare drivers to strike on St. Patrick's Day amid high gas prices

Posted at 10:48 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 07:44:37-04

PHOENIX — The impact of soaring gas prices is forcing rideshare drivers to take a stand, with hundreds nationwide planning to strike on Thursday. This comes during one of the busiest rideshare weeks in the Valley. Not only is it St. Patrick's Day, but Spring Training games are also getting underway. A strike means if you need a ride, you may not find one — and if you do, it could cost you big.

Liza Brun loves working as a rideshare driver in the Valley.

"Giving them safe rides," says Brun, who has completed more than 17,000 rides in six and a half years. But lately, she says it's been difficult.

"It's hard to pay bills, and sometimes I don't have food," says Brun.

The rising gas prices are hitting drivers hard. Uber and Lyft tried to help offset that with a temporary surcharge put on the riders. Many don't believe it does enough.

"Last week I drove seven days in a row. I spent over $250 in gasoline so that doesn't even cut it," says Brun.

They aren't the only ones upset — so are those relying on a ride.

"We are going to our hotel in Peoria and that's how much it's going to cost... $100. Yea, it's pretty high but it's almost the only alternative because rental cars are super expensive also. So, it seems any means of transportation right now, all the prices have gone up," says Ibeth Hernandez, a rider.

ABC15 also investigated the rates. A trip from Sky Harbor to Old Town Scottsdale Tuesday evening was nearly $40 on Uber and more than $40 on Lyft.

As for drivers, they're taking a stand. A strike is planned worldwide on St. Patrick's Day. The man behind it, Torsten Kunert, used to live in the Valley. He says the high gas prices is not the only issue.

"For now, give them proper assistance. It backfires when you are offering such small change. You're taking that away from the rider and passing it onto the driver. The balance here has to be right," says Torsten Kunert, known as the Rideshare Professor.

Other core complaints are underpaid drivers, overcharged riders, and poor safety.

"To be a driver, you go through a day or two background check. It's something simple that we all do. So, I think that passengers could do the same," says Stephen Moss, another rideshare driver.

Moss, from Phoenix, says he's taking part in the driver strike, hoping it's the first step in making a difference.

"It's just a day but, I mean, I think it's important just to kind of send a message that we're important too," says Moss.