Some Baton Rouge Uber drivers plan on striking Friday night to protest the lower rates the popular ride-sharing service is charging.
Drivers plan to go offline from Uber beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and ending at 8 a.m. Saturday. Some drivers also will protest in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart Supercenter on College Drive on Friday night.
Stephen Rice, one of the organizers of the strike, said Uber cut its rate for a ride from $1.35 a mile to 90 cents a mile a week ago. While the company has said the cut was initiated to increase passenger demand during the winter, Rice said it doesn’t take into consideration how busy some local markets are. Mardi Gras balls and parades have kept local demand for Uber high, he said.
“We’re really just trying to voice how we feel,” Rice said. “We want our old rate back. We’re not asking for more money.”
The cut in rates means less money for Uber drivers. Rice said he drove 100 miles more than average last weekend to make up for the lower rate, but took home about $150 less.
“The fear is if we don’t say anything, the rates will go down even more,” he said.
“People say ‘Look at how cheap gas prices are.’ But they’re not taking into consideration that when gas was $3 a gallon, we were charging $1.85 a mile,” Rice said.
Uber officials said there are guaranteed earnings in place to ensure that drivers aren’t disadvantaged by the lower rates. And the company said it adjusted rate cuts in markets where business didn’t pick up. “While pricing is a science, every city is different: different economic circumstances; different regulations; different competition,” the company said in a statement posted on its website.
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter @TCB_TheAdvocate.