Uber drivers' next stop: Bankruptcy?

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To keep drivers on the road, both Uber and Lyft are offering an ever diversified range of financing options that include short-term rentals and subsidized leases. But when it comes to their personal finances, many Bay Area drivers say they’re running on empty.

Drivers — who shoulder a wide range of expenses tied to their work — often describe tenuous financial circumstances that can crash quickly owing to events beyond their control: A company’s decision to lower rates – as Uber did in January – vehicle expenses, tickets, and even “vomit events” that can delay their ability to drive.

“I used to be able to survive, but once they started manipulating the prices I really fell behind,” says Jason, a Bay Area driver who didn’t want his full name used because of his relationship with Uber.

Both Uber and Lyft now offer subsidized, short-term rental systems for drivers who don’t own and don’t want to use their own vehicles for ridesharing: Uber says that its Xchange Leasing program, providing short-term leases that come with basic maintenance like oil changes and tire rotation, is a very popular choice among its fleet of drivers.

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