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Your Tampa Bay Uber will cost more St. Patrick's Day... and beyond

In this file photo from 2017, a woman gets in an Uber car at LaGuardia Airport in New York. The popular ride-sharing app increased prices of rides in Florida starting last week.  [Associated Press file photo]
In this file photo from 2017, a woman gets in an Uber car at LaGuardia Airport in New York. The popular ride-sharing app increased prices of rides in Florida starting last week. [Associated Press file photo]
Published Mar. 16, 2018

You might notice your Uber ride this St. Patrick's Day costs a wee bit more than you're used to — the popular ride-sharing app upped its prices last week in Tampa Bay.

But the price hike (about 12 percent more per mile) doesn't just have some riders grumbling. Drivers say they're not getting any more money and could lose business.

"Uber is raising prices, but they're leaving us behind," said Christian Perea, a driver and reporter for TheRideShareGuy.com. "That's what a lot of drivers are upset about right now."

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Perea, who drives in northern California, has been closely following the ride-sharing industry for the last three years. He said the percentage drivers gross has been on a steady decline.

The new rates began on March 9. Javi Correoso, a Florida Uber spokesman, said the increase was statewide.

"What we collect from this increase in rates will help us continue to make the Uber experience better for everyone," he wrote in an email. "We notified riders and drivers of these changes when they were made."

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The company has said it doesn't think it will impact what drivers take home per trip.

Before the hike, a ride to Tampa International Airport from downtown St. Petersburg during the afternoon before rush hour would be close to $27. Under the new rates, it's nearly $31.

Perea said that now about 40 percent of a Tampa Bay ride's fare is going to Uber. A year ago, there was a 20/80 split, then it crept up to 25/75 and, most recently, 30/70. The price per mile has dropped, too. So drivers have gotten used to driving more to make up for what they were earning a year or two ago.

For a while, Uber said it was lowering its prices to increase demand to make up for the growing percentage it's been taking from its drivers, Perea said.

But with the latest hike, drivers are worried price sensitive costumers are going to be less likely to hail an Uber.

In a Facebook group for Tampa Bay drives, some have discussed coordinating turning their apps off between rush hour, 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., as a type of protest. But there doesn't appear to be a unified local front on how to handle the latest uptick.

The recent hike could be an effort by Uber to improve its finances. Despite its widespread use, Uber has likely burned through about $10.7 billion in the last nine years, according to a Fortune report earlier this month.

In the short term, Perea predicts economical ride-seekers in Tampa Bay will probably shift to Uber's top competitor, Lyft, which hasn't hiked its prices.

"But historically, Lyft follows in Uber's foot steps," he said. "I give it another month or so before they're the same (price)."

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Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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