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Rideshare drivers switching to electric vehicles to avoid pain at the pump

Rideshare drivers switching to electric vehicles to avoid pain at the pump
Rideshare drivers switching to electric vehicles to avoid pain at the pump 02:39

SAN FRANCISCO -- The spiking price of gas across California is hitting one segment of the state's work force particularly hard, forcing some rideshare drivers to make a major change to avoid the cost.

Bay Area gas prices
Rising Bay Area gas prices. CBS

Rideshare driver Bond Francisco says he has enjoyed the hundreds of hours he has spent behind the wheel working for Uber and Lyft. 

"It fosters creativity and focus. I think that's what I like about it. I've always liked to drive," Francisco said.

After a career in business, Francisco has relied on driving to bolster his retirement savings. He's worked as a rideshare driver for nearly nine years, and boasts thousands of trips on Uber and Lyft combined. 

Francisco works out of the North Bay, but says his trips have taken him all over the Bay Area. However, the past several days have proven difficult in one particular area.

"I keep a record of all my gas purchases," Francisco explained, pointing to his years in business. "In the last two days it's gone up fourteen cents at my favorite Arco station up the street. You know, that's unconscionable."

Francisco credits his Toyota Prius from insulating him from some of the pain at the pump as average gas prices in California approach all-time highs.

It is one of a number of factors that have pushed some longtime drivers to electric vehicles.

Gabriel Ets-Hokin is part of an online group of dozens of rideshare drivers in the Bay Area who've opted for EV's. Ets-Hokin -- who is a contributor and writer for The Rideshare Guy, a popular blog for rideshare and gig workers -- says the cost savings are immense.

"There's definitely a growing number of drivers that are realizing, 'Hey I could make an extra $800 dollars a month driving an electric vehicle, so I might as well make the switch,'" Ets-Hoki said.

Analysts point to the recent spike in gas prices as a result of California refineries being take offline for both routine maintenance and unexpected disruptions. That leads to a decrease in supply across the state that has driven prices up higher than just about anywhere else in the US.

OPEC's Wednesday announcement about slashing oil production by two million barrels a day is expected to send prices higher cross the country, but Severin Borenstein of UC Berkley's Haas School of Business noted that Californians aren't likely to bear the brunt of increased related to OPEC's decision.

"I don't think that the OPEC announcement will be very noticeable to California drivers, partially because the prices are so high and partially because we're going to see the prices coming down as we switch over to the winter blend," Borenstein said.

That's good news for Francisco.

"If the gas prices go too high, I just wont drive," he said.

And more help for drivers in California is about to arrive for drivers. The first of the state's inflation stimulus checks promised to residents will start going out this Friday.

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