At the beginning of every year, I send out a detailed survey to rideshare drivers across the country in order to get their take on the driving experience and see what’s changed since the year prior. This year’s survey was sent out on 1/25/18 and we collected nearly 1,200 responses from drivers on our email list and through social media.
Uber had a tumultuous 2017, but if you weren’t following the news cycle, you may not have even noticed since all that bad press did not have a negative impact on the actual day to day operations. Uber ended the year doing more rides than ever and drivers were actually more satisfied at the end of 2017 than they were compared to the year prior.
Lyft still had higher overall satisfaction and pay among their drivers compared to Uber, but the gap is narrowing. A majority of Uber drivers were satisfied with Uber’s 180 Days of Change campaign, which included new features like a tipping option and a 24/7 phone support line for drivers. Lyft made some small improvements to the driving experience in 2017, but they did not have a substantial driver-focused campaign like Uber did.
Pay and flexibility were still at the top of the list when it comes to why workers are flocking to rideshare driving, but drivers feel strongly that they are underpaid. In fact, they reported that they would like to make around 51.6% more than what they currently are earning.
Among topical issues in the news, drivers feel strongly that they should remain independent contractors and a majority are also for more stringent fingerprint based background checks – Uber and Lyft are staunchly opposed to fingerprint based background checks.
(If you’d like to review our full PDF report of the data, please click here. If you’re a media member or researcher and would like to see a full list of questions and/or calculations, please contact me. And if you’re an advertiser or consulting client, and would like to discuss these results further or run a custom survey, please reach out to me.)
How Did Uber’s Terrible Year of PR Affect Drivers?
Uber’s 2017 was full of scandals at the corporate level, but the effect on driver morale and more importantly driver earnings, was limited. At the beginning of 2017, 49.4% of Uber drivers reported that they were satisfied with their Uber driving experience and one year later, 58.2% of Uber drivers reported that they were satisfied with their Uber driving experience – a 9% increase in driver satisfaction.
2017 was the first year that Uber did not lower rates as part of their ‘Winter Warm-Up Promotion’ where Uber tries to increase a seasonal dip in demand by cutting rates. This practice had become an extreme annual frustration for drivers.
Another potential cause for the increase in driver satisfaction may have been due to Uber’s 180 Days of Change campaign which aimed to fix and improve the driver experience. Uber released driver-friendly features like tipping and a 24/7 support line, and it would appear that these new additions definitely helped the company’s standing with drivers.
In fact, 57.2% of drivers indicated that they were satisfied with Uber’s 180 Days of Change Campaign:
Uber Driver Earnings
Uber drivers also reported earning $16.90 per hour, which is nearly a dollar per hour more than last year. In mid 2017, Uber added a tipping option and continued to offer lucrative weekly bonuses in many cities.
We also found a positive correlation between number of trips given and increased reported earnings. New drivers (fewer than 500 rides) reported earning just $14.74 per hour before expenses compared to experienced drivers (10,000+ trips) who reported earning $20 per hour before expenses.
What Services Are Drivers Working For?
Uber dominates the conversation when it comes to the main service drivers are working for:
But even though Uber is the dominant player among drivers, that doesn’t mean there’s a whole lot of driver loyalty. Nearly 80% of drivers have actually signed up for 2 or more services with Lyft, Postmates, DoorDash, UberEats and Amazon Flex, all siphoning drivers away from Uber.
Acquisition costs for drivers have been reported to be at an all-time high and competition between services is fierce. Since last year, Uber’s market share among drivers dropped nearly 1% while Lyft’s market share increased from 62.5% to 75.1%.
UberEATS was a standout on the delivery side and since last year, their market share went up from 14.8% to 22.5%. One reason why may be due to the fact that existing Uber drivers can essentially opt in to deliver for UberEATS without having to apply for a whole new service like with other delivery companies.
Drivers Still Prefer Lyft Over Uber
Although only 17% of drivers indicated that they primarily drive for Lyft, satisfaction among those drivers beat out Uber by a long shot. 75.6% of Lyft drivers reported that they were satisfied with their driving experience compared to just 58.2% for Uber.
Lyft drivers also reported earning $17.37 per hour, which was 47 cents per hour higher than what Uber drivers reported. In 2017, this gap was $2 per hour so it appears that Uber drivers are gaining on Lyft drivers when it comes to earnings.
A good possible explanation would be the tipping option that Uber added in the middle of 2017, since both companies pay nearly identical base mileage and time rates across the country.
Here’s a look at some key self-reported metrics and how Uber vs Lyft drivers compare:
|Uber Drivers||Lyft Drivers|
|Average Hourly Earnings Before Expenses||$16.90 per hour||$17.37 per hour|
|Average Lifetime Trips||2,516||1,969|
Are Rideshare Drivers Underpaid?
As we’ve seen in prior years, the two things drivers care most about when it comes to rideshare are the pay and flexibility that the job offers.
But there’s a big discrepancy between what drivers think they should be getting paid and their actual pay. Uber and Lyft drivers report earning a combined $16.93 per hour before expenses, but they told us they think they should be earning $25.67 per hour. That’s a difference of 31% or nearly $9 per hour.
What Drivers Dislike About the Rideshare Experience
A majority of drivers are satisfied with their overall rideshare driving experience, but there are some areas that need improvement. A big complaint we hear from drivers has to do with UberPOOL and this year’s feedback about the product was no surprise.
65% of drivers in UberPOOL markets indicated that they were dissatisfied with their UberPOOL experience.
And while many assume that drivers feel similarly about Lyft Line, the results were surprising:
45.5% of drivers were actually satisfied with their Lyft Line experience compared to just 22% with UberPOOL. Lyft and Uber typically pay drivers the exact same rates across the country, but one area where their rates are different is with shared rides. Lyft actually pays the same rates for Lyft Line as they do for Lyft classic while Uber typically pays ~10% less for UberPOOL rides than UberX.
Uber added a $1 additional pick-up fee to the second UberPOOL rider in 2017 but it doesn’t seem like it had much of an effect with drivers.
Uber and Lyft Vehicle Choices
It may not come as a big surprise, but the most popular carmaker for drivers was Toyota and the most popular model was the Prius. In fact, 5 of the top 6 carmakers for rideshare drivers were Asian brands with Ford the lone American stand out.
The average age of driver’s vehicles was 2012 which is a bit of a surprise considering that Uber allows vehicles as old as 2002 or newer in many cities.
Rideshare Insurance for Drivers
A majority of these drivers have NOT purchased rideshare insurance despite the fact that nearly every state now has at least one or two companies offering the product:
Driver Employment and Worker Misclassification
The constant employee vs independent contractor debate won’t be going away any time soon, but an overwhelming majority of drivers do not want to be employees.
When comparing full-time vs part-time drivers, we see a slight preference toward employee status from full-time drivers but a majority still want to be independent contractors.
Uber and Lyft are staunchly opposed to fingerprint background checks, but a majority of drivers are actually for them. This echoes the feedback we hear from drivers whenever there are driver-related incidents in the media. And there may be a self-serving component since higher barriers to entry means less competition for existing drivers.
PS – Big thanks to Andrew Taylor for helping out with the graphs and number-crunching!
2018 Survey Winners
A big thank you to everyone who took part in the survey – it really helps give us a perspective on drivers, their frustrations and successes, and helps us advocate for better driving conditions. For taking part in the survey, I offered the following prizes, and a list of winners follows below each prize. We will be contacting the winners by email.
- Grand Prize: One 30 minute consultation with Harry ‘The Rideshare Guy’.
- Winner: Bearddenver
- First Prize: 5 lifetime memberships to our $97 video training course: Maximum Ridesharing Profits
- Winners: Mwestphal4588, atlridesharejay, tajacalvin, Kshiver, joslyn.heather
- Second Prize: 10 $20 Amazon e-gift cards
- Winners: Howykapowy, brittley47, pedro.faria.it, wgurney1, james.pat.cook, robcravens1, Jesse.w.prater, tjdongilla, alambrecht, lawnman1972
- Third Prize: 15 Rideshare Guy Trucker Hats
- Winners: samh1248, Ghlnynj, C_baybayan, austinandrews, Joyvickie, unicorncarriages, ajphillips, dannigurl36, Fredhalfpap, ikehobbs, gracebobe, sean.broderick, mguthridge62, Bilalk1992, sschindel1968
Did anything surprise you or stand out about the survey? Let me know in the comments!
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-Harry @ RSG