Amid gas supply concerns, ride-sharing companies say they’re staffed, prepared

Ride-hailing users say they're ready to handle gas scarcity. (KXAN Photo)
Ride-hailing users say they're ready to handle gas scarcity. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and subsequent concerns about available gas supply across Texas, drivers have raced to gas stations to top off their tanks. Ride-sharing drivers are arguably no exception to the trend.

After noticing that several gas stations were running out of fuel Thursday across Austin, part-time ride-share driver Terri Rios says she filled up at a gas station off Barton Springs Road.

Rios said she wanted to get prepared ahead of the busy long holiday weekend. But, she says her preparation came with an unexpected additional cost.

“I’m a ride-share driver, so I needed to make sure I had a full tank, but this was really expensive. I used my Uber gas card. I put $30 and that got me less than 10 gallons,” explained Rios. “I’m relying on having gas in my car so that I can keep working.”

She said she paid $3.29 per gallon for unleaded gasoline.

“It’s typically $1.99 or even $2-something. That’s really outrageous pricing,” added Rios.

But, the weekend ahead likely means more demand — and likely more profit — for ride-sharing drivers.

Jose Gonzalez has been a ride-share driver for Ride Austin since September 2016. He says he’s looking at this weekend as an opportunity.

“It’s a hot weekend. It’s the first football game. We have several events going on, plus the gas shortage. We’re really hoping to have some big demand,” said Gonzalez.

According to Ride Austin, the company has over 5,000 active drivers in their network.

“We’re 100 percent prepared,” said Bobbi Kommineni, the Vice President of Strategic Programs and Operations at Ride Austin. “During South By Southwest, we experienced 20,000 rides in one day.”

In an emailed statement sent to KXAN News, representatives with Fasten say the company is seeing an increase in the number of riders using its services in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. This, coupled with the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, and UT students back in town are contributing to the increase.

“For those that want to avoid a trip to the gas station, or just get around town on Labor Day without driving their own car, Fasten’s app is ready for the increased demand. We expect to be running as usual through the busy weekend,” the statement continued.

Lyft also released this statement: “We are closely monitoring conditions and staying in communication with area drivers and city leaders. Many in Texas rely on Lyft for safe transportation and we are glad to be helping the city’s residents and volunteers move around in this time of need. As always, safety is our top priority.”

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