This post is a follow-up to a blog post I made in September titled “My two days as a Lyft driver” detailing my initial experiment driving with Lyft (similar to better-known Uber). That post resulted in my receiving many inquiries focussed on the question of how much money someone can realistically make wth a ridesharing tech company such as Lyft or Uber. So I decided to try and go one week being in “driver mode” for 40 hours in to mimic a “normal” person’s full-time work week.
Unfortunately, because I have many other activities on my plate, I did not make it to 40 hours but did make it to 30 hours. There are two ways to look at earning money as a ridesharing driver, one as a worker bee (earnings by the hour) or from a business perspective (net profit). Let’s explore the financial end before getting into a few memorable ride experiences for the week.
First, let me suggest I could have made far more money if I didn’t have other obligations in my life and if I had focussed on making as much money as possible (see below). I also only drove for Lyft and not Uber for the week. I also focussed the week on Lyfting mostly in the Boca Raton/Delray Beach region during the day. One can make much more money driving at night and in more population dense areas like Miami Beach for example.
Another aspect of the ridesharing experience I would like to mention is how Lyft and Uber are self-regulating. Although most passengers realize they have the ability to rate the driver, most do not realize the driver is rating them as well. With Lyft, if either the passenger or driver gives a rating of 3 stars or below (out of 5), then those two will never see each other again. The purpose is to have a great experience for both the passenger and the driver, so if one is not happy with the other, then there is no purpose in matching them up again. If there is a driver doing something wrong, inappropriate or just giving poor service, that driver will not be on the driver platform very long, thereby not picking up any passengers. The same regarding the passengers. If a passenger is consistently unruly or bad-mannered, then they are going to get a poor rating and will find it hard to get a ride. Based on convos with some of my passengers, this has happened to a few of them on Uber, which is why they are now trying out Lyft. They could no longer get a ride on Uber because they’d been too drunk or whatever the reason. I can say, not one ride I gave was a bad experience.
What was my net profit for the week?
I drove a total of 30.8 hours, gave 37 rides and netted $329.31 after car expenses. That comes to $10.69 per hour. Not overly exciting, but pretty good if you’re out of work or looking to pick up some extra money for the holidays. My prior blog post showed me earning $13 per hour for my first two days. That said, I truly believe that if someone did this full-time and didn’t mind working nights and putting in a minimum of 50 hours per week, you’d make $20-25 per hour after car expenses.
Now when I say, “I drove a total of 30.8 hours,” that simply means I was on the driver platform (on-call) for that time period. I was not driving rides to their destinations and may not have necessarily been driving around.
I did not factor in the tax savings because as a driver your phone, cell, data, text service, much of your car expenses, etc. now become tax deductible. I did not factor that in because that will affect different income level people differently, but it is not something to ignore.
How could I have made more profit and earned more per hour?
One way would have been to drive more. This sounds counter=intuitive, but Lyft (and I believe Uber on some level) gets a commission for each ride you do. After all, they developed the technology (it’s their platform) and are making it very simple to acquire rides, so they deserve a cut. The standard is commission Lyft takes is 20% of your ride total (minus tips). This is reduced to 10% once you are on the driving platform for at least 30 hours and is eliminated COMPLETELY if you are on the driving platform for 50 hours or more during the week. This is a great incentive as my income for the week could have been given another boost had I stayed on longer as I would with any normal full-time job. Although I do not look at it this way, an hourly employee’s mindset may consider that overtime pay.
As I mentioned earlier, another way to earn more would be to focus more time in Miami Beach, Miami, Fort Lauderdale. It goes without saying that the more rides you make, the more money you’ll make. Spending time in a more suburban area as I did this past week is good, but without that population density, a driver is traveling farther to get to the person requesting the ride and there are fewer people looking for a ride.
Referrals are also another great way to increase your weekly income. Both Uber and Lyft offer this incentive and it is truly a win-win-win scenario for all involved. I will focus on Lyft because that is what I have experience. If you become a Lyft passenger using my link code then I will get a referral fee and you, as the passenger, will get some free rides so you can experience Lyft without any risk. If you become a Lyft driver using this link code then both you and I will receive a financial benefit. The incentives change frequently and it depends on your city, but you could get a $250+ “signing bonus” for becoming a driver. This is on top of your regular income driving.
Another way to make more money is to make sure you are available for prime time, which so far, is almost always in the Miami area. Lyft will pay you anywhere from 25 to over 100% more than your average ride income during certain hours of the day in certain areas. They call them “heat maps” where there is a need for more drivers due to high demand. This can be during rush hour during the day, rainy evenings, or recently most anywhere in South Florida during Halloween evening.
One could also have a more fuel efficient vehicle to net themselves more cash. I was using a BMW X5, but it would seem to me that a Toyota Prius would be the ideal vehicle for a ridesharing driver. I have owned a Prius before and they are very low maintenance while getting 50+ miles per gallon. Buying your fuel for less money obviously, would net you more profit with each ride. It is important to note that one can be a driver in a Toyota Corolla or a Bentley, it doesn’t matter. Though you will earn a bit more money if you have a larger vehicle. And with Uber, if you have a high-end vehicle, then you can earn even more.
Lastly, before I get into some of the rides, you can earn more money by keeping your car clean and even more importantly not getting lost and knowing your way around. Nothing irritates a passenger more than you showing up at a different location or not showing up at all. Although the Lyft experience is meant to be a bit casual, that is not to be at the expense of getting from point A to point B safely and efficiently.
As mentioned earlier in this post, I gave 37 rides this past week. The most memorable was picking up two young girls from a college campus on their way to a popular mall. The girls spent the morning getting stoned in their dorm room (I know, that never happens because weed is illegal, especially on campus) and one was on her way to a job interview with an high-end store. They were laughing hysterically and having a good time, but what was the one girl thinking??? I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that job interview.
One thing I have heard from multiple young single women who I have given rides was how safe they feel with Uber and Lyft. Some said their experiences taking traditional taxis was one of dread. The most common complaint cited was the leering of the taxi driver. Single women rightfully feel that Uber and Lyft drivers are not going to harass them and they told me are more professional. This is funny to me because the taxi drivers are supposed to be the professionals in this industry.
I picked up one girl who had spent the weekend with her on again, off again boyfriend. I took her to the airport and we had a great conversation about life in general and how much she loved her first-time here, though had no intentions on moving here.
Another girl was in town for her friend’s 30th birthday party. She commented on how terrible the taxis are in NYC and how much better Uber and Lyft are. She even takes Lyft and Uber instead of her company provided black car service.
One gentleman has been through hell and back and this past week got another dose of hell. Although clean, he has had serious issues with addictions in the past, which is why he uses Lyft regularly. The government took his drivers license away. Within a day of losing his job late last week, his girlfriend left him. He had a positive outlook and I am not sure I would have been in his positive frame of mind. He’s an impressive guy and if you have a job available let me know.
I had a great conversation with a young guy on his way to a church function. He is an impressive person who I think is going to be doing some great things with his life.
There is also some confusion with some people who are new to using the Lyft app. One guy’s first ride with any ridesharing service was with me to PBI and he ordered it up well in advance because he was afraid he wouldn’t make his flight. I got to him in 3 minutes and he was stunned. He thought he’d have to wait 45 minutes like a regular taxi. We had a great time talking about his move back to his hometown.
All in all, I have not had one bad experience carting people around town. It is actually more enjoyable than I would have thought! None of the time did it seem like a job and would highly recommend the service, either as a driver or passenger.
The passengers and drivers come from all different backgrounds. One day you may be picking up someone at an oceanfront mansion and another in a low-income area — all are welcome rides in my car. And you never know where you’ll end up which is part of the fun.
There is so much more I could say about this past week and none of it is negative. Lyft is a great service for our community, one that should be embraced.
Below are some comments passengers made to Lyft about me. I do not see comments until the next day when Lyft sends me a summary of my day’s activities, nor do I know who made the comments.
“Awesome guy! One of the most comfortable rides I have had”
“Karl was great!”