Rideshare driver Maia Kaluhiokalani-Roley uses her silver hybrid to go anywhere a passenger wants to. Her longest trip was nearly five hours from the airport to Clemson, South Carolina, and back.
“I’m everywhere … I don’t have a set destination.”
But she’s not racking up those miles like she used to. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the incomes of rideshare drivers in Georgia as well as across the country. Drivers such as Kaluhiokalani-Roley are still around.
But how she drives has changed. For example, she now wears a mask and cracks the window.
“I wipe down my car. I try to do it after every rider but when the Lyft app is going, you’re picking people up one after another.”
There’s also a change of who she’s driving around: more healthcare workers.
“A lot of them get up real early in the morning and they don’t get out of work until eight, 9 o’clock at night,” she said. “And they’re like ‘if we drove, we’re so tired we don’t want to get ourselves in accidents and stuff.’”
She’s also driving these workers to hotels. She said some of them tell her they don’t want to risk passing the virus to their families.
Gig workers don’t usually qualify for unemployment. But under the CARES Act, enacted in late March, they can now file. Kaluhiokalani-Roley is undecided if she will file.
“I just haven’t done it yet because I’m kind of like teetering. I’m still out here, I’m still working.”
“A lot of people are still waiting for their unemployment,” she said. The Georgia Department of Labor has had a backlog of getting payments to workers. Across the country, approximately 30 million people have filed for unemployment since mid-March.
Kaluhiokalani-Roley’s biggest loss in income is due to getting fewer rides to and from the airport, which are more lucrative.
But there’s one perk to her work right now.
“Oh my gosh … traffic is like a breeze. I mean there isn’t any traffic really.”
But rideshare drivers like her depend on that traffic as well as trips to Hartsfield-Jackson.
“We rely on the airport,” she said.