Have you ever wondered how many Uber and Lyft drivers are out there? We decided to do some research ourselves. Today, RSG contributor Melissa Berry answers the question of “how many Uber and Lyft drivers are there in the United States?” Plus, how many Uber drivers are there worldwide, and is Uber truly the leader in rideshare internationally?
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It seems like there are more rideshare drivers than ever on the roads these days, so it’s a question many of us wonder – how many Uber and Lyft drivers are out there? Whether you want to avoid the competition or use this info to hustle harder and beat that competition, today I’ll take the news that is out there about drivers and attempt to answer that question.
Uber Drivers in the United States
In 2017, Uber co-founder Garrett Camp piqued our interest by mentioning casually that Uber provides “flexible work options” to 2 million drivers. Also in that post, he also mentions 65 million riders. If that seems like a lot of riders to you, it’s actually not: only 36% of American adults say they’ve used ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft. That means there’s still a lot of opportunity for growth (including driver growth) for Uber and Lyft.
These are worldwide numbers for Uber, and they’re the latest ‘public numbers’ we’ve seen from the company as of June 2017. However, it doesn’t answer the question of how many Uber and Lyft drivers there are in the US.
The US is one of Uber’s biggest markets, since Uber was taken over by Didi in China (although Uber still has a stake in Didi). Estimates vary, but Uber’s market share in the US is between 65-69% – meaning Uber should have a larger number of drivers than Lyft. In 2018, it was estimated Uber had 2.25 million drivers outside the US.
In 2014, Uber announced that they had over 160,000 active drivers in the United States, and that number doubled in 2015 to 327,000 drivers.
Although we assumed this number could double, it looks like Uber’s driver numbers have plateaued to 1 million US drivers in 2020. In California, Uber has said it has 209,000 active drivers per quarter.
Is that too many drivers? New York seems to think the proliferation of drivers in NYC is too much – Uber and Lyft have been compelled to stop accepting new drivers in New York City.
If we extrapolate the worldwide figure of 2 million drivers from June of 2017, we can assume that Uber is nearing 3 to 4 million drivers worldwide right now.
According to a 2020 report released by Uber, approximately seven million Americans used ‘digital platforms for work’, with one million of those driving for Uber. As we’ve covered it here on RSG before and Uber themselves have told us that about half of all drivers quit after just one year.
In addition, by 2018, Uber had roughly 750,000 drivers in the US – meaning it was not doubling every year. If numbers had doubled every year since 2015, Uber should have had 2.6 million drivers in the US alone by 2018. Driver churn and availability clearly has an impact on the number of drivers in the US, but the growth is clearly still there.
However, while it looks like Uber has plateaued at around 1 million drivers in the United States in 2020, this number could increase in the future and driver churn could be less tumultuous in the coming years. Currently, due to the coronavirus and the inability of the United States to gain control of the virus, many people are losing jobs that may never return.
Research from the University of Chicago shows that 42%, or 11.6 million, of all jobs lost through April 2020 due to the coronavirus will become permanent. Will all 11 million of these newly unemployed people drive for Uber or Lyft? Certainly not – but a solid share could.
Uber Drivers Around the World
Since Uber left China, the US is Uber’s largest market for passengers, with India following behind. In 2018, it was estimated Uber in India fielded 1.5 million drivers. This means that between the US and India, Uber has roughly 3.5 million drivers in those two countries.
In 2015, Mexico had become Uber’s third largest market and likely retains that place since Uber left China. Drivers in Mexico likely account for an additional 500,000-750,000 drivers, with the rest of the countries Uber still services falling behind in number of drivers.
Since Uber left China, Latin America is turning into a powerhouse for the company. Uber plans to expand rapidly throughout the region. Could Mexico overtake the US in number of drivers? It’s unlikely the country of Mexico could, but the Latin American region, with several large, populous and transit-friendly cities could edge out the US over time.
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Between Uber and Lyft, Uber is by far more popular, more used, and has more drivers. Part of this is because Uber is worldwide – by sheer opportunity, Uber has more drivers and passengers than Lyft.
On July 24, 2018, Uber announced it completed 10 billion trips worldwide – doubling the number of trips given worldwide in one year. Over the years, Uber valuations have fluctuated from roughly $60 billion to $90 billion, although time will tell to see how it fares on the stock market. Uber is also in over 500 cities worldwide. Compare this to Lyft, which has a valuation of around $15 billion as of this writing. While nothing to shrug at, this valuation is nowhere near Uber’s valuation.
However, is this it for Uber? Will the number of drivers and passengers Uber and Lyft have continue to skyrocket, or will it plateau? There is a case to be made for these numbers to fall flat in the coming years – meaning Uber driver numbers in the US, if not happy with Uber, could continue to fall without a corresponding increase.
7Park Data, an NYC-based data intelligence company, makes the compelling argument that Uber’s (and Lyft’s) ridership may not increase as it has been. 7Park Data found that 20-25% of US smartphone users have the Uber app installed, and it seems to reason that leaves plenty of opportunity for Uber and Lyft to market to the remaining 75-80% of people who don’t have Uber downloaded to their phones.
However, “Uber’s largest markets are major U.S. cities where ride-sharing is more useful than using personal vehicles or public transportation” and not as common in cities and towns that are more spread out or rural. In those cities and towns, people are more likely to own and drive their own cars versus taking an Uber or Lyft. That said, there is still opportunity in other markets (like travel and commuting), which you can read more about here.
Is Delivery The Next Frontier?
Uber has been pushing much of its large driver force towards UberEats. This means UberEats is poised to become a delivery network with possibly the largest amount of delivery drivers. There are a lot of delivery companies right now, but Caviar is definitely one of the better platforms flying under the radar (less competition). As delivery gets more popular with drivers, UberEats will likely become saturated.
What About Lyft?
In a recent interview on the Pivot podcast, co-founder and President of Lyft John Zimmer said that there are currently (as of November 2020) one million active Lyft drivers, and two million drivers on an annual basis.
Pre-COVID, this means Lyft had two million drivers on the road. With demand down 50% since last year, Lyft currently has one million active drivers.
But since our survey has shown that ⅔ of all drivers work for both Uber and Lyft it could be that a lot of those Lyft drivers are technically ‘active’ with Lyft but they get a majority of their rides with Uber.
As of October 1, 2019, Lyft had about 305,000 drivers in California who completed trips within the past year, although that number has likely declined due to the coronavirus.
So although the sheer numbers are smaller, Lyft has a lot going for it:
- Large investments in Lyft by GM and Alphabet
- Lyft’s upcoming domestic expansion
- Positive perception of Lyft vs. Uber
Although Lyft has a lower valuation than Uber, it’s clear Lyft can still raise investment funds. In addition, Lyft is looking at partnerships internationally to bring Lyft to new markets with key players – instead of competing against them and getting battered as Uber did in China.
Finally, while the #deleteUber movement didn’t seem to do much to quell Uber’s popularity, it does stand to reason every negative Uber announcement in the news certainly can’t help the brand. Lyft knows this and you can be sure seeks to capitalize on as many Uber missteps as it can.
Drivers, do you think Uber and Lyft will continue to grow as they have been over the past few years? Do you see Lyft ever surpassing Uber in number of riders and drivers?
-Melissa @ RSG
How many Uber drivers are there in the world?
Uber probably has nearly 4 million drivers worldwide by the end of 2019.
How many Uber drivers are there in the United States?
Uber has 1 million US drivers by the end of 2020.
How many Lyft drivers are there in the United States?
There are one million Lyft drivers in the US.
How many Uber AND Lyft drivers are there in the United States?
Combined, there are likely 2 million Uber and Lyft drivers in the US, but that number may be closer to 1.5 million given the overlap (many drivers drive for both companies).
That’s because Lyft has around 1.4 in the US and Canada, and those are Lyft’s only markets. According to the annual Rideshare Guy survey, ⅔ of drivers drive for both Uber and Lyft. That means not every Lyft driver drives for Uber, and not every Uber driver drives for Lyft – but over half of drivers do drive for both.
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