Charitable organizations, ride-share drivers react to higher gas prices

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The average price of gas ticked up slightly in Minnesota on Wednesday, as costs climb across the country. A regular gallon of gas statewide costs an average of $3.95, according to AAA. The national average is $4.25 per gallon.

The increase in costs comes as Metro Meals on Wheels works to meet record demand. The organization delivers 5,000 to 6,000 meals per day, across six counties. Program leaders told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are exploring ways to assist volunteers.

“We have not seen a decline in volunteer support for delivering Meals on Wheels, which we are very thankful for,” said Linda Velez, Volunteer Engagement Director at Community Emergency Services (CES). “But we are looking at efforts at how we might be able to support them, additional resources that we might be able to provide should that be the case.”

Velez said they are considering mileage reimbursement, for example. She told us these discussions just started within the last few days.

“We’re thinking outside of the box on how we might be able to support this,” said Velez.

The CES location serves close to 300 meals a day to residents in north and south Minneapolis.

Paul Bondhus has been a volunteer driver in Minneapolis for six years and explained he delivers meals that are nourishing for the body and soul.

“It’s a privilege and they’re so thankful,” he said. “For some of them you’re the only person they see, especially during COVID.”

Bondhus isn’t deterred by the rising cost of gas. 

“It’s a first world problem, for me at least,” he said. “It’s a small price to pay for whatever we do, whether it’s democracy in Ukraine, whether it’s democracy at home. It’s the smallest sacrifice I could imagine.”

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crews have observed Minnesotans spending $60 to more than $100 dollars to fill up their gas tank.

“We are real sorry that the gas prices are going up,” said Kafi Ali, who was waiting to pick up riders at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. “It’s affecting our life, our daily income, our weekly income.”

He explained he has to fill up each day, which costs $40. If he makes $200 in daily ride fares, he said gas costs nearly a quarter of his income.

“I’m almost [at the point] to find another job,” said Ali.

Other drivers also expressed frustration.

“The expenditures have gone up quite a bit, like I said, it’s about 300-some dollars more a month than this time last year,” said a driver named Todd, who didn’t want to provide his last name out of concern he would lose his position as a ride-share driver.

He explained the ride-share companies keep a portion of the fare.

“They’re taking close to 40 to 50 percent on some of the rides now, which is hurting us a lot more too,” he said. “We could use some help.”

Driver Leo Feng said he pays about 20 to 30 percent more than he used to due to the higher gas prices. He hopes the pain at the pump will have benefits in the long run.

“For the short term it’s bad, hurts your wallet,” said Feng. “For the long term, for the whole society, for the environment, it’s probably better. If it is $100 a gallon for the gas price, no one wants to drive anymore everybody and gets an electric.” Uber spokesperson Josh Gold sent 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS a statement which reads, “We know higher prices at the pump can be a challenge, which is why we recently launched a new feature that helps drivers save up to 25¢ per gallon through cash back with getupside. Our platform only works if it works for drivers, so we’ll continue to monitor gas prices and listen to drivers over the coming weeks.”