No shortage of ride-hail drivers in DC on day of strike

Ride-hail drivers in several cities around the country are supposed to be going on strike Wednesday as part of an effort to push Uber and Lyft to offer drivers more protections.

But while D.C.’s ride-hail drivers are supposed to be among those striking, not many of them are expected to join the day of action ahead of Uber’s aim to raise $9 billion in its initial public stock offering, planned for Friday.

And during the morning rush hour, it didn’t seem like many of them were joining. Firing up the Lyft app Wednesday morning saw no shortage of drivers cruising the streets of downtown D.C. looking for fares — and a scan into the windshields of vehicles zipping back and forth along K Street Northwest also saw lots of people riding in the back seats of cars with Uber and Lyft stickers on them.

Basically, getting a ride in D.C. isn’t looking too difficult.

Two drivers who spoke with WTOP Wednesday morning said they weren’t even aware of the strike. But one of them certainly understood, and even agreed with the premise behind it.

“We’re not being treated like we should,” said one driver. He said things were much better when Lyft was newer to the scene.

“We’re treated like crap,” he said. “In the beginning it was amazing. Right now … I used to make $300 a day working between 8-and-10 hours. Right now to make the same money I need to work like 14 hours.”

He says the company is taking more money out of drivers’ pockets.

“First they reduced the price, the mileage. They’re taking more money from us, like 30% of the ride.” He said surcharges during busier times have been reduced, putting a dent in his pocket to the point that he now ends up losing money when he fills up his gas tank.

But another driver was less critical, telling WTOP he enjoys the flexibility it offers him. He said it was his primary job, but one that allowed him to spend time with his wife and kids when he needed.

On the other hand, he said lost time dealing with a fender bender, even when he’s not at fault, as well as other problems that can crop up behind the wheel, don’t get reimbursed.

But for the all the complaints, the bottom line is that most drivers seemed to be sucking it up and hustling for rides Wednesday morning anyway.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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