Uber to Spend $250 Million to Boost Number of U.S. Drivers

Uber Technologies Inc. said it will spend $250 million to get drivers back on the road and recruit new ones as the coronavirus pandemic eases in the U.S.

The money will go toward bonuses for drivers, guaranteed pay and on-boarding for workers who are new to Uber, the company said Wednesday. The program anticipates an eventual rise in demand as more Americans are vaccinated and stores reopen.

Uber plans to lay out the money over the coming months, said Matt Wing, a spokesman for the company. Bonuses will depend on a variety of factors, including location and time, he said. Uber shares declined as much as 3.6% during trading Wednesday.

Ridership fell sharply over the last year, and a surge in food delivery orders failed to make up for the ride-hailing jobs lost. Many drivers for Uber and Lyft Inc. either sought work elsewhere or applied for government stimulus programs.

Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi signaled a rise in driver bonuses during a conference call with investors in February. He said increased spending in the first half of the year would boost driver supply and meet what he expected to be higher demand from riders. The company spokesman declined to say how much Uber spent on driver incentives in the first quarter.

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