‘You’re just stranded!’: Uber, Lyft drought lingers in MA

BOSTON — The nightmare wait times Uber and Lyft riders have been experiencing during the pandemic may not improve for several weeks. Boston 25 News spoke with rideshare customers across Boston who describe routinely waiting more than 30 minutes and sometimes not being able to connect with a driver at night.

The drought of rideshare drivers is especially being felt in Massachusetts because of a ban on ‘surge pricing.’ The law, passed after the brutal winter of 2015, forbids surge pricing during declared emergencies.

Massachusetts’ current state of emergency isn’t being lifted until June 15. That’s more than two weeks after the state’s full reopening on May 29.

“If it’s past 7 or 8 o’clock, you’re stranded,” said Ashley Bizzell, who lives in the Back Bay. “You’re just stranded! You’re stuck.”

Bizzell described it as a safety issue after public transportation shuts down at night. She also questioned if it would lead to more people getting behind the wheel who shouldn’t be driving.

“If there aren’t cars, people are going to be forced to possibly drive under the influence,” Bizzell said.

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Others worry that more people coming into the city for the first weekend of bars and clubs being open until 2 a.m. may not know about the rideshare situation.

“There is this big practical challenge if Uber and Lyft are not available,” said Sarah Bannon, who lives in the South End. “It’s a question mark for me. Hopefully it changes soon.”

The predicament is also being felt by passengers arriving at Boston Logan Airport.

“All of a sudden, the wait time got further and further and further,” said Cindy Raymond, arriving from Portland, Ore. “I’ve been traveling all day. I’d like to get to my hotel.”

A Massport spokesperson sent the following statement to Boston 25 News:

“Uber and Lyft activity has been down nearly 80% at Boston Logan International Airport since the beginning of the pandemic. We can’t speak for Uber or Lyft but anticipate more of these drivers will return as passenger activity increases.”

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Boston 25 News also reached out to MA Gov. Charlie Baker’s Office. A spokesperson said the Baker-Polito administration filed legislation last month to adjust the law banning surge pricing.

“This is now the third time the Administration has filed legislation to make this fix, but it has not yet been taken up by the Legislature,” read a statement from Gov. Baker’s press office.

Spokespersons for Uber and Lyft said they’re seeing a big increase in demand for rides and are working to meet that demand by providing incentives for drivers.

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