A fresh excuse for not coming into the office is making the rounds across the Big Apple: the price of an Uber.
While New York City employees have griped for more than a year about the dangers of taking the subway to work, a growing contingent has become increasingly fixated on what it costs to use ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, sources told On The Money.
One commuter who works at a Manhattan public relations firm — who asked that her name not be used for fear of getting into trouble — said she comes into work twice a week and has told her boss that she can’t afford any more than that.
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“It used to cost $10 to get to my office. Now it costs $35,” the source kvetched. “I can’t do that every day.”
Workers say they have become emboldened over the issue since last month, when a Goldman Sachs employee was shot and killed on the subway in Brooklyn by a crazed gunman. The incident happened just days after Mayor Eric Adams urged CEOs like JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs’ David Solomon to take the subway to work in a bid to get the city’s economy humming again.
It also came just weeks after Goldman had slashed a slew of pandemic-era perks that included free Ubers to and from headquarters in Lower Manhattan. Nevertheless, many executives see this as just one more excuse employees are using to keep pandemic-era remote working privileges.
“The hierarchy of excuses is neverending. First it was COVID, then it was subway crime and now its high Uber prices,” one senior executive at a Manhattan-based tech company told On The Money.
“Last time I checked we still have buses, yellow cabs and Citi Bikes. What’s next? Blaming long lines at the office buildings’ Starbucks for not coming in?”
Other companies — particularly those that are well-capitalized — remain sympathetic to the plight of the rank-and file.
“We’re trying to find solutions so people feel comfortable coming into the office,” a worker at a prominent hedge fund in Manhattan told On The Money. The source added the company allows employees who don’t feel comfortable taking the subway to expense car services.
Another worker at an education company said she’d make the commute from Queens to her Manhattan office more frequently if Ubers were cheaper. In a pinch, she says she’ll typically choose the subway over a car service even though she feels “unsafe” on public transit.
“It’s too dangerous to take the subway but it’s too expensive to Uber,” she said. “When I’m running late I resolve to miss half a meeting because it isn’t worth the $65 to Uber.”
Still, some remote workers concede that citing the cost of an Uber as a reason to stay home looks a bit thin.
“I think people will make any excuse not to go back to the office,” one millennial who lives in Brooklyn and works at a healthcare startup told On The Money. “But I think in general, people don’t want to commute anymore … definitely with the recent shootings and stabbings going on.”