'Leave them stranded': Rideshare drivers shut off apps at Atlanta airport, boycott for hours

Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers shut down their apps at the Atlanta airport during one of the busiest holiday travel periods. The rideshare drivers told FOX 5 Atlanta they're fed up with unfair wages from the companies they work for.

The drivers began the shutdown at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 4 p.m., the beginning of what they call peak travel hours.

The idea was to make it tough for people needing a ride from the airport. They hoped it would make the companies realize that drivers need better wages.

"As long as we protest, passengers will continue to be stranded, and maybe that will make an impact," one driver said.

Drivers told FOX 5 that in some cases, they have received less than 50% of the fare, sometimes even less than 30% of it.

"I did a ride the other day, and she said she paid $102 for a 40-minute ride. I got $25, and that’s because I had a $5 bonus!" said Lyft driver Debora Williams. "It’s just ridiculous."

FOX 5 reached out to both Uber and Lyft for a breakdown of how they pay drivers at the airport.

"Earnings in Atlanta are more than $30 an hour when drivers are actively working on the platform," an Uber spokeswoman told FOX 5. "Drivers also receive fare and destination information upfront before they accept a trip and are fully empowered to decide what trips are worth their time."

A spokesperson for Lyft told FOX 5 that pay for their drivers in Atlanta is broken down into three pillars:

  • Upfront pay: This is the fare drivers are paid for each ride they give. They can view the fare for a ride before you accept it. Upfront pay is based on a number of factors which may include estimated time and distance to complete the ride, your travel to the pickup point, demand for rides in your area, and other market factors.
  • Tips: You keep 100% of the tips passengers choose to give you. We built tipping into the Lyft app to make it easy for passengers to say thanks, and because we know it’s important to our drivers. Passengers can tip during and after the ride, or set an automatic tip so they never forget.
  • Bonuses: Lyft offers a variety of bonuses to help boost your earnings. Bonuses are most commonly offered during the busiest times and in the busiest places. You can see what’s available in your Lyft Driver app, or learn more about driver bonuses here.

"Lyft takes the concerns of drivers very seriously and are regularly exploring ways to improve their experience on the platform," a spokesperson for Lyft said. "Last year, we introduced Upfront Pay in Georgia and across the country, which shows drivers ride information and what they’ll earn before accepting a ride. We also provide drivers a weekly pay summary that shows a breakdown of their earnings and the total amount riders paid."

The protest lasted for hours as more drivers gathered for the cause.

However, FOX 5 Atlanta checked in with passengers at the Atlanta airport rideshare zone. Many of them said they had no problem ordering an Uber or Lyft.

"It was absolutely no problem tonight. We got one in three minutes," Olivia Alexander said.

The drivers who protested said they will be planning another boycott, and will continue to do so until the companies hear them.