By Megan Hickey

CHICAGO (CBS) — Ride-share drivers are still considered essential, but the stay-at-home order has crippled their take home pay.

CBS2 Investigator Megan Hickey has been digging into COVID-19 policies to help struggling drivers, but not all drivers are getting the same benefits.

Lyft announced that some drivers who take part in a rental car program would get a reduced rate during this crisis, but right now it’s only with one provider that doesn’t do business in Chicago.

Full time Lyft driver Jay Xavier said he makes anywhere from $800 to $1200 in pocket. It’s not a bad living for the full-time driver, who has, as an essential worker, continued driving through the pandemic.

He takes advantage of Lyft’s Express Drive Program, which allows him to rent a car and then subtract the rental fees from his earnings.

“Everybody I transport is either working in a hospital, nursing home or grocery store or some essential businesses that are still open,” he said.

The first week of March he took home $843 dollars.

But that was not the case the last week of March.

“I made $84.30,” Xavier said.

That’s not enough to support his family, but he saw a glimmer of hope when he read that Lyft had reduced rental rates in the most impacted markets. But then he found out he didn’t qualify.

“Our drivers have to pay full price,” he said. 

Lyft said the reduced rates are through rental partner Flexdrive, which doesn’t have a partnership in Illinois. Xavier’s rental is through Hertz, and Lyft can’t set their rates.

CBS 2 reached out to Hertz about the policy.

In a statement, Hertz said the weekly rate for Lyft drivers who rent from the company as part of the Lyft Express Drive program is $219 plus taxes and fees. The weekly rate does not vary by market, and the company is not currently offering discounts.

“The only difference from market to market would be the taxes and state mandated fees, which does cause some variance,” Hertz said.

“I’m not blaming anybody for anything,” Xavier said. I’m just looking for some consideration.”

Lyft also says drivers may return their rental cars at no additional charge.

Uber has a similar program, and there is no mention online about reduced rental rates with their partners.

CBS 2 reached out for comment.

Megan Hickey