AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Students from UMass Amherst have reached out to Western Mass News about a rideshare shortage around campus.
When you search on rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, it says no drivers are available. Some students told us this could potentially be a safety hazard and could prompt others to even drink and drive.
“I definitely know that anytime I go on the app, I don’t really see any Uber or Lyfts available,” said UMass senior George Giunta.
UMass students first reached out to Western Mass News wanting answers about why no rideshare services are available around campus.
Western Mass News searched Uber and Lyft sites and found no drivers available on either app. It’s a problem that students said has lasted for months.
“As of last semester and probably the semester to that really hasn’t been that many,” said UMass senior Abeiku Yankson.
Representatives from Uber and Lyft told Western Mass News that there is a shortage of drivers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been in a state of emergency for over a year and because of that, rideshare apps can't charge normal surge pricing.
Uber told Western Mass News in part, “Surge pricing ensures that riders have access to affordable and reliable transportation and that drivers can earn more on trips during busy times. We hope to work towards a solution with the state that allows for a reasonable amount of surge pricing during the continued state of emergency.”
Lyft also said the gradual return to normalcy plays a role. They said in part, “We’re seeing big increases in demand for rides, as vaccines roll out and people get ready to start moving again.”
The problem is impacting accessibility to off campus necessities.
“I’m also fortunate because I have my own car on-campus, so I’m able to have a good transportation around, but I definitely know for other kids, it might be hard, even if you just need to take an Uber to the grocery store or something,” Giunta added.
Others said the issue could have more severe consequences if students decide to get behind the wheel after drinking.
“I would encourage more Ubers to be around, especially since things are kind of getting better with COVID, people are getting vaccinated and what not. I think it’s definitely a hazard if they aren’t around,” Yankson noted.
Uber told us they are temporarily increasing drivers earnings only in Massachusetts to keep up with the demand and to encourage drivers to come back out.