the successive fuel highs have weighed heavily on the pockets of workers in general and especially on those who work in the transport sector. In Ceará, the cost of gasoline is the main reason that 60% of application drivers have left the activity since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Association of Application Drivers of Ceará.
Gabriel Bruno Viana is one of them. Registered on platforms like Uber and 99 five years ago, he was already acting as “taxi friend” before the arrival of startups.
With the onset of the pandemic and the drastic reduction in travel, Gabriel was unable to continue paying the installments for the financed car and had to transfer the vehicle to a relative.
“At the end of the year, it improved and I managed to rent a car to work. When the year turned around, I was still able to continue paying, but with the increase in fuel and, as the car I used to run was gasoline, it wasn’t making up for me“, he reports.
running from sunday to sunday
He details that the activity was his main source of income and to keep the family ran from sunday to sunday. On weekdays, it started at 8 am and only stopped at 10 pm. On weekends, the workload changed to night and dawn, while on Sunday it was between 12:00 and 22:00.
The former driver also reveals that renting a car for drivers registered in the application costs an average of R$ 600 per week, which is added to the cost of fuel, at least R$300 per week.
“That’s why it doesn’t pay for me and I stopped. I still tried to ride a motorcycle in iFood, but it didn’t work for me, it didn’t work,” he says.
Currently, Gabriel is unemployed and looking for a parking space for a private driver. He says that he has training in the refrigeration area, but that he has not yet found a job in the segment.
“My wife went back to work selling cakes, autonomously too. Then she’s making these cakes and we go on with life as we can”
Gabriel Bruno Viana
Former application driver
Deterioration of earnings
The president of the Association of Application Drivers of Ceará (Amap), Rafael Keylon, points out that spending on fuel has always taken about 50% of the gain of application drivers, a percentage that jumped to up to 65% with recent increases.
“This means that if I put R$ 100 worth of gasoline, until my gasoline runs out I can only make R$ 140 in the app, sometimes R$ 135, that is, I recovered my R$ 100, but as a gain I only made R$ $35”, he clarifies.
He also reveals that the consumption of R$ 100 in gasoline is the equivalent of about 200 km covered, the mileage of a day’s work.
Keylon points out that, with the increase in the cost of fuel, some races make the driver pay to drive, such as those in which 10 km are covered and cost R$ 10.
“This is common in apps like Uber and 99 with their promotions. A liter of fuel is costing around R$6. A common car does 10km per liter. So, of those R$10 it will earn, R$6 it it’s already spent just to drop off the passenger. Depending on the displacement he’s going to make from where he is to where the passenger is, the race can start with the driver paying to work”
President of Amap
Situations like this have forced drivers to use strategies when deciding whether or not to accept a race, which ends up directly reflecting on the passenger waiting time.
According to the president of Amap, the earnings per race are around R$ 2.5 to R$ 3 or R$15 per hour. “That’s why drivers have to drive a lot to earn the amount and wait for times to rise in prices to be able to escape,” he says.
On average, state drivers work 12 hours a day to earn around R$ 120.
The long working hours have still resulted in several health problems to drivers, from headaches, flu and problems related to heat stroke, to joint pain and gastrointestinal diseases due to lack of water intake, for example.
Keylon points out that the association advises drivers to take at least one day off a week, usually between Tuesday and Thursday, days considered to be the weakest.
“We did a survey that showed that seven out of ten drivers complain of headaches, dry cough or the flu because of heat-related problems. It’s very common for you to find an app driver and notice that his left arm is more tan than the right”, he indicates.
To try to improve the quality of life of drivers, Amap is negotiating partnerships with health operators and popular clinics. The idea is to offer a low cost corporate health plan.
As the president, the goal is that the monthly amount to be paid is around R$ 50 to R$ 60 and that the plans are already available from October this year.
“We are going through a big financial crisis that the market has not yet recovered to absorb all the people in formal jobs. So, some drivers have to stay in the application, because that’s it or nothing”, he concludes.
Search for alternatives
Júnior Oliveira is one of the drivers who remain in the activity out of necessity. Also registered on the platforms for about five years, he started running to supplement the income, but the craft ended up becoming the main income.
“It was Uber’s profile when it started: it was an income supplement. Many drivers started that way. Today there is a system that many people actually use as a main income”, he highlights.
According to him, in addition to the increase in fuel, the lack of tariff readjustment of applications has made it very difficult to act.
To be able to maintain the family, formed by him, his wife and his stepson, Júnior works 10 to 12 hours a day and with a very low profit margin compared to previous years.
The driver reveals that he is always looking for other better alternatives, but that he has had difficulties to relocate in the business market.
One of the best profitable outputs is trips to other states. However, the demand for this type of service is still negligible.
“It’s very complicated to stay on the platform today, because companies do not carry out tariff readjustments, which have been outdated for a long time and the value of fuels, both gasoline, ethanol and even natural gas does not follow this trend”, he points out .
Response from companies
In a statement, Uber said that “it has intensified its efforts to help partner drivers reduce their expenses, with partnerships that offer discounts on fuel, for example, as well as having reviewed and readjusted the earnings of partner drivers in several cities” .
The statement reveals that in Fortaleza the tariff was readjusted on average by 10% last week and that the partners were notified of the fix.
One of the company’s actions to minimize the impact of fuels is availability of 4% cashback when paying with the Abastece Aí app at Ipiranga gas stations.
Over the number of drivers, the company just pointed out that there are more than 1 million partners throughout Brazil and emphasized that, as they are independent professionals, they can turn the application on and off when they find it more convenient.
“Many take advantage of this flexibility to fit activity into their routine, increasing or decreasing their application engagement as needed from week to week. Globally, 34% of Uber partners shift the amount of hours they spend online on the platform from week to week. week by more than 50% on average,” the statement added.
The 99, also through a note, reveals that “there was no change in the number of registered partner drivers”, but an “increase in demand for the service, which was driven by two factors: the high adoption of the service by Class C, that started using the service during the pandemic, and the recent return of activities in cities, which has caused delays in some peak hours”.
The company also explains that the applied rate is variable up to 30%, which contributes to greater gains for drivers, in addition to practicing the so-called negative rate, in which the amount passed on to the driver is greater than that paid by the passenger, a difference paid for by the platform.
Also thinking about reducing the impact generated by the economic situation, 99 launched a stock pack for the second half, which foresees actions such as the full transfer of the value of the race to partner drivers in specific locations and times.
“This support plan provides impact more than BRL 500 million the Brazilian GDP, in addition to the value already generated by the activity intermediated by the company, which, in 2020, was R$ 15 billion, according to a study by Fipe. In addition, in 2021, a partnership between 99 and Shell has already guaranteed more than R$3.1 million in discounts at the network’s service stations across the country.”