São Paulo – Massage therapist Ana Paula Aparecida de Oliveira, 38, has been an app driver for five years, since she divorced and was faced with the responsibility of paying alone with the bills for the house she shares with her two children, aged 14 and 18 . A few months ago, however, the source of income became a target for questioning in the face of what she calls a “villain”: the rise in fuel prices.
“I thought about giving up several times. As time went by, everything changed and villains emerged. Today, with what I earn, I have difficulty filling up my car, going to the supermarket, the meat is very expensive”, he says.
Ana Paula lives in the northern part of São Paulo and was used to starting trips at Rodoviária do Tietê during the shifts when her children were at school. To keep the same income, she says that she started driving at night and, instead of eight hours, the journey increased to up to 14 hours.
“Driving during the day is no longer possible because of the traffic. I worry about how I’m going to fill the tank when I can go back to using the air conditioning”, she says, about the determination of transport companies by application to keep the windows open during the pandemic, in order to avoid contamination.
The price of gasoline underwent several adjustments this year and reached R$7 per liter in some states. In São Paulo, a liter of gasoline costs around R$ 5, one of the cheapest in the country. Ethanol is worth an average of R$ 4.30, according to the National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP). According to the Broad National Consumer Price Index (IPCA), the accumulated increase was 27.5% between January and July this year.
Ana Paula says she does not reject races, but according to Eduardo Lima de Souza, president of the São Paulo Application Drivers Association (Amasp), the practice has been increasingly recurrent, especially when the passenger is more than 2 miles away from the driver. “The other day I covered almost 6 kilometers to pick up a passenger who traveled 1.8 kilometers, that is, I spent two liters of gasoline to earn R$ 8. In the end, I spent R$ 1.75 to drop the passenger at the destination”, calculates.
Another factor that contributes to the increase in canceled races is the promotional modalities offered by the apps. “These are races in which the driver receives R$3.75 per kilometer traveled with the passenger. If a liter of gasoline is R$ 5, it pays to leave the person at the destination”, says the president of Amasp.
According to him, 25% of drivers in the modality stopped driving due to high fuel prices and the lack of readjustment in the amount transferred by the apps to drivers. “This causes many to choose only the most profitable races, which causes inconvenience to users. Complaints have been increasingly recurrent.”
the Uber side
In a statement, Uber informed that “the high demand for travel has been increasing in recent weeks, as the vaccination campaign advances and the authorities gradually reopen commercial activities. In this sense, users are having to wait longer for a trip.”
Also according to the company, “partners who drove around 40 hours earned, on average, R$1,200 to R$1,300 per week. In a month, it means that drivers have an average earnings above the average salary for various professions in the country”.
To face the day-to-day at the wheel, Ana Paula says she gave up on making spreadsheets, as they are always “zeroed”. “I take it one day at a time. The escape valve is ‘Uber therapy’, the possibility of talking to passengers”, he concludes.