Baton Rouge Uber drivers plan protest in response to fare change

Baton Rouge Uber drivers plan protest in response to fare change

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Uber drivers plan to strike this weekend in response to d ropping fares.

From 5 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday, many Uber drivers plan to go offline, limiting the numbers of cars available during one of the busiest party weekends in the Capital City. That could also cause Uber prices to temporarily go up to compensate for the shortage of vehicles.

At the end of January, Uber introduced fare cuts in 100 cities nationwide, including Baton Rouge. Before January 29, the price was $1.35 per mile. As a result of the cuts, the price is now at 90 cents per mile.

In an email, Bill Gibbons, a spokesman for Uber, said the price d rop was designed to encourage business by making it cheaper for customers.

"These cuts are designed to boost demand for drivers during a time when historically it has been slow for drivers," Gibbons said.

However, many local drivers do not buy that argument, including Stephen Rice, who has been driving for Uber for six months.

"Honestly in this area with Mardi Gras, with the balls going on downtown, the parades and everything, demand's even gone up," Rice said. "Last weekend, I lost probably about $150 dollars because of the rate d rop."

Rice said his earnings shrank from $560 one weekend to just above $400 the next.

"If you do the math, 35 hours and $419 before expenses. It's really not a lot for all the time that we put into it," Rice said.

Rice and other drivers are contractors working for Uber, meaning they have to pay for their own gas and car maintenance.

"There's so many things out where people are protesting for higher wages. We're just asking that Uber not cut our pay," he said.

In a blog post, Uber indicated that prices could go up again if drivers do not become busier.

This is not the first time prices have been cut in Baton Rouge. When Uber was first introduced in Baton Rouge in the middle of 2014, prices were nearly double what they are now, sitting at $1.85.

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