HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO)—Some local Uber and Lyft drivers say there has been a shortage of drivers available since the pandemic, as well as taxi companies.
Brandon Zaldivar, a taxi driver at J-J Taxi on South Padre Island, said prior to the pandemic the company had a couple more drivers. But, after COVID, drivers did not want to come back due to fear of catching the virus.
Zaldivar said even on holidays, there are still fewer drivers willing to work and says the demand is exceeding workers available.
“As of right now it’s a lot more hectic of course, fewer drivers means not that many taxis to pick up people,” said Zaldivar. “We get backed up quite a bit, but we do manage.”
A driver that works for Lyft and Uber spoke with KVEO but asked to remain anonymous.
The drivers said taxi companies dominate the business in South Padre Island.
“It’s such a small island; not that much of a distance, so Uber and Lyft drivers don’t really make that much money,” said Zaldivar.
KVEO joined the anonymous drivers on a ride along on Memorial Day.
The driver said that usually there are a few extra drivers that come in, but not this year.
At the time of the interview, the Uber and Lyft map showed only one customer available requesting a ride.
“You never know who is coming off the airlines,” said the anonymous driver. “It could be a Lyft customer that only uses Lyft, or it could be an Uber customer that only uses Uber.”
On the other end, Zaldivar said there is more opportunity for individual taxi drivers to make more money with less competition.
“Fewer drivers of course it means more profit for the individual driver since there are fewer people,” said Zaldivar.