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North Alabama rideshare, delivery companies scrambling amid gas price hikes

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — One silver lining of the pandemic was cheaper gas, and with that lower fees for common ridesharing and delivery apps. That now seems like a distant memory, and local services are feeling those effects.

“The issue we are seeing is hiring new drivers, getting newcomers to come on,” GrubSouth Co-founder Marge Loveday told News 19. “Because it doesn’t seem as appealing to them at this point.” (Drivers’) tips are lower. Everybody’s feeling the effects of the financial stress, I think.”

According to AAA several counties in north Alabama, including Madison County, average $4.08 per gallon as of Thursday. For local delivery businesses like Rocket City Delivered and GrubSouth, that makes for costs never seen before, and causes increases of their own.

“People are ordering less and less food,” Rocket City Delivered owner Michael Collins said. “And one more thing that’s going to keep them from ordering food is my commission going up and things like that. We’re gonna have to raise our prices sooner or later. I’d just like it to be later.”

“Unfortunately we’ve had to pass on like a one percent hopefully temporary charge for our customers for a fuel surcharge fee just to help us keep those drivers running,” Loveday said. “Because on average, I think about 50 percent of our tickets we’re having to pay a driver $2-3 extra per order just to basically let them make a good profit off of that order.”

The rideshare service Uber is trying to make up for the price hikes for its drivers. A spokesperson said in a statement,

“We know higher prices at the pump can be a challenge, which is why we recently launched a new feature that helps drivers save up to 25 cents per gallon through cashback with GetUpside. Our platform only works if it works for drivers, so we’ll continue to monitor gas prices and listen to drivers over the coming weeks.”

Both Rocket City Delivered and GrubSouth are cautiously optimistic they can avoid losing drivers and can adapt to keep a bottom line.

“Maybe introducing bicycle deliveries in downtown areas, electric cars, or those kinds of hybrid bicycles,” Loveday said. “So if we have any interest in that we’re definitely willing to implement that as fast as possible so that the gas fees won’t become such a problem long-run.”

“I’ve never really looked for cheap gas (for drivers to fill up at), but it’s never been a big issue, you know? Now it is,” Collins said.

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