LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Lyft drivers gathered to protest the reinstitution of certain ride-sharing policies as the pandemic continues into its third year.
"Lyft is threatening the drivers again," said Esterphanie St. Juste, who has been driving with the company for about seven years.
Two weeks ago St. Juste and thousands of others received an email from Lyft informing drivers that shared rides would return to certain regions in Los Angeles.
"This is despite the pandemic getting worse," said St. Juste.
A Lyft spokesperson addressed the scrapped change in policy on Wednesday night.
"Driver safety is our top priority, and we want to be clear that we are not reintroducing Shared rides in Southern California at this time. We're continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation very carefully, including the rise of the omicron variant. As a result, in early January, plans to reintroduce a campus ride program at a local university – what is being interpreted as the return of Shared rides – were paused until further notice."'
Lyft also said the company sent the email to all drivers in the L.A. region to err on the side of transparency even though very few were likely to be impacted.
According to Lyft, the campus program, which was paused because of the rise of the Omicron variant, would only be available to students at an unnamed university within a two-mile radius of the main campus. The company also said that each ride would be limited to two students must be going in the same direction, the rides would only be sent to drivers near the campus. Drivers are not required to accept these rides and would not incur a penalty for doing so.
According to the company, all drivers and passengers must wear masks. Additionally, the front passenger and back middle seats should always stay empty. If a driver or rider fails to follow the health codes emplaced, both the rider or driver can cancel without penalty.
"You have no idea if the person next o you has gotten their shots if they have COVID or if it's just a cold," said St. Juste.
Two thousand drivers have filed a complaint with the company to ensure that Lyft does not restart shared rides.
"If they cared about the safety of drivers and passengers they wouldn't be sending out these messages on the app to bring in shared rides," said Taj, who was driving for the company since 2017.
Taj and the other drivers also filed a formal complaint to the state.
"We are going to take them to Cal OSHA and we are going to file a complaint," said St. Juste.
She hopes that the state sides with the drivers.
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