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Bay Area Ride-Hailing Drivers Hit Hard by Gas Price Surge

MILLBRAE (KPIX) -- The ride-hailing gig economy was born and thrived in the Bay Area but, as gas prices inch ever closer to $6 a gallon, the question is: can this business model and the drivers survive?

The Arco station in Millbrae just off Highway 101 south of SFO is a necessary pit stop for ride-hailing drivers around the Bay Area.

At the moment, that pit stop is not only necessary but expensive -- and it's prompting drivers on the Uber and Lyft platforms to look for new careers.

"To be honest, I'm looking for another job ... and probably I'm going to move out too. I'm thinking to move to Arizona or some other place," said a driver named Aladeen.

The current payment setup for drivers doesn't take into account the price of fuel.

"There has been no reimbursement. Unfortunately us drivers have taken the brunt of everything since the beginning," said Lyft driver Taylor Hazell.

There are two petitions circulating to get ride-hailing companies to cover some of the fast-rising cost of gas.

Dara Kerr, who covers the gig economy for The Markup says that help is not likely to come soon.

"I'm not optimistic that the companies will raise fares for drivers given the past history of the companies raising earnings -- they've been reluctant to do that. It seems, if they were to raise fares temporarily, they'd then have pressure to keep those fares at those higher rates. So, I don't really see that happening," Kerr told KPIX.

Companies are partnering with some gas companies to offer drivers a discount at the pump but many say it's not nearly enough to stay on the apps.

"With the gas prices, it's going to cut into your profits and it's going to be working for less than minimum wage," said driver Kianna Williamson from Stockton.

Drivers are skeptical that they'll see significant assistance from Uber and Lyft.

"I don't have a relationship with the CEO, so we'll see. We'll see. It'll be news to me," said Lyft driver Danielle Aguilar.

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