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Uber and Lyft Are Spending Millions on Driver Bonuses to End Shortage

Riders are returning to ride-hailing apps, and the companies are straining to meet demand.

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Photographer: Michelle Kwon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Misty Huffman has driven sporadically for Uber in El Paso over the past year, even as Covid-19 surged and many of the ride-hailing app’s regular customers stayed away. One recent Friday she opened the app and was surprised to see large numbers of people requesting rides at restaurants, bars, and other nightspots downtown. “The whole city was lit up, end to end,” she says.

Huffman made $1,000 that weekend, a better rate of pay than she gets from her day job as a respiratory therapist. The increase in riders was a factor, but more than a third of the money came directly from Uber in bonuses. “The incentives are crazy,” she says.