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Covington area's delivery, gasoline-driven businesses face price impact
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COVINGTON, Ga. — Brenda Francis, who works locally as an Uber Eats and Amazon Flex driver, said high fuel prices have put a dent in her pockets, as well as her livelihood.

Before the state’s average price per gallon reached record highs this week, the Covington resident said she could filled her vehicles gas tank with only $45. Now, that cost has risen to more than $60.

“So, more money goes into gas and less into my family,” she told The Covington News.

Francis and many others around the community and across the nation are feeling the pinch at the pump after Georgia’s average price per gallon soared to an all-time high $4.29 per gallon this week.

“I know everyone would say, ‘Why not get a better job?’ But when you have children, your life has to revolve around them,” said Francis, who has worked full-time as a driver since 2019 and doesn’t plan to stop now. “I love doing this job. And I am really good at it. I just pray that things get better soon…”

Francis is one of few drivers who are remaining steadfast in their position as a driver for Uber, DoorDash and other ride-share or delivery businesses.

Area resident Destany Ferguson said: “My husband, Blake, was doing Uber Eats, and he stopped because he would use all [the money] he made in one day to put right back into his tank to get home after riding around delivering.”

Another resident, Andrea George, said: “I quit Instacart because gas is getting too high, and they don’t pay enough for the gas or in general.”

Tiffany Joyce Hutcheson commented: “[I] Haven’t DoorDash’ed in about a month due to the gas prices!”

But Uber and Lyft drivers recently received a pay increase after adding what company officials say is a “temporary” surcharge to help combat increase fuel costs and keep drivers employed.

“We know that prices have been going up across the economy, so we’ve done our best to help drivers and couriers without placing too much additional burden on consumers,” a news release from Uber officials stated. “Over the coming weeks we plan to listen closely to feedback from consumers, couriers and drivers.”

Because of this surcharge that translates to a raise for drivers, area Uber driver Ed Phillips said he hasn’t been negatively impacted.

“Uber has recently increased our wages,” he said. “It depends on the city you are in. I personally haven’t been affected at all.”

Uber officials said they were using this time as a platform to “bolster” efforts to get more drivers to switch to electric vehicles.

“Drivers who go electric can already enjoy higher earnings potential due to Uber’s Green Future Program, which provides incentives to EV drivers such as $1 more per trip up to $4,000 annually,” the news release stated. “We’ve also negotiated discounts for drivers on leading EV models and special deals on charging. And our latest partnership with Hertz will make up to 50,000 fully electric Teslas available for eligible drivers to rent by 2023. This is the largest expansion of EVs on a mobility platform in North America, marking another step towards Uber’s zero-emissions goal.”

As a business built around gasoline powered equipment, Jacob Jensen, co-owner and operator of Yellow River Landscaping in Covington, said day-to-day operational costs had “significantly increased.” 

“It has significantly increased the price of our day-to-day operations just by adding to the daily cost to fill up all our equipment, as well as creating a trickle effect with rising inflation in all the materials we purchase for larger jobs,” Jensen said. “When it cost more to distribute product, obviously the cost of product rises, and then it becomes more difficult for us to do our job at a reasonable price.”

Jensen said the cost of services have had to increase, but only by the same amount of the material increases. As for lawn care prices, he said they may have to make adjustments.

“We have tried, up to this point, to keep consistency in our pricing, with maintenance in particular,” he said. “However, with consistently increasing gas prices, we may have to raise our lawn care prices in the middle of the year, which we are trying to avoid as much as possible for the good of our customers.”

With the future of oil and gas prices cloudy, Jensen said his company would continue to monitor the numbers and “hold out” until no longer possible.

“In the short term, like most other companies in our area, I assume, we are just trying to hold out to be competitive in the market and not upset our clients, but it is likely a matter of time before we have to increase our prices like everyone else,” Jensen said. “For now all we can do is keep a close eye on the numbers and understand what can afford with the best interests of everyone who chooses to business with us in mind.”

But Georgians could get some relief at the pump soon.

The Georgia Senate unanimously passed a bill Thursday to temporarily suspend the state sales tax on gasoline, which would save just more than 29 cents per gallon of gasoline through May 31. All that was needed Thursday afternoon for the legislation to take effect was Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature.