Gas prices could be headed higher before they come back down

Gas prices in the Bay Area are just a few cents shy of hitting the highest cost since 2012, according to GasBuddy. At the same time, the cost of taking a rideshare is skyrocketing amid a driver shortage.

In Palo Alto, and across the Bay Area, finding gas for less than $4 per gallon is nearly impossible. Experts say prices could climb even higher into July, but by late August, prices could come back down.

One year ago, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.27 less than the average price of $4.34.

"As we get back to normal, demand is ramping up, and oil production is not rebounding as quickly and that has brought oil prices up very quickly and thus gas prices," said GasBuddy Petroleum Analyst Patrick de Haan.

"I pay for gas, $50 per day," said Uber and Lyft driver Hector Castellanos.

Castellanos drives 300 miles per day picking up riders. He's busier than he's been in a while with more people needing rides to work and airports, and fewer rideshare drivers available to pick them up.

Over the weekend, one man tweeted the prices he found on the rideshare apps. "8 min drive from SFO running $100 on Lyft and Uber!"

He ended up taking a taxi for just $30.

Uber and Lyft both say they are temporarily boosting pay for drivers, to incentivize more people to drive for them.

Uber says drivers averaging 20 hours behind the wheel a week are making close to $25 per hour. "With more people getting vaccinated and moving around, riders in the Bay Area are using the Uber app more. To meet this returning rising demand, we are reinvesting in bringing back drivers who are an essential part of the community and are helping get the city moving again," a Uber spokesperson told KTVU.

Lyft says drivers in their top markets last month averaged $30 to $35 per hour. "We’re seeing big increases in demand for rides, as vaccines roll out and people start moving again. We’re working to meet demand, including providing incentives to drivers, who are busier and earning more than they were even before the pandemic," a Lyft spokesperson told KTVU.

Castellanos said he hasn't seen his pay that high. He says the actual figure is closer to $12 to $15 per hour driving full time, and sometimes goes long distances to reach people where no one else is available to pick them up.

"That's why a lot of drivers they don't want to keep driving," said Castellanos.

While the price of a gallon of gas could peak a few cents higher next month, it's very unlikely they'll hit $5 per gallon. To save on rideshare apps, look for coupon codes online, and compare prices on different apps.