I Let the Uber Algorithm Boss Me Around: Here’s What Happened

At The Rideshare Guy, our main goal is to increase driver earnings with simple strategies, such as multi-app usage, destination filter strategies, working when and where there is demand, and other tips. Senior RSG Contributor Sergio Avedian typically cherry-picks his rides but decided to do something he typically refrains from: accepting every ride the Uber algorithm sent his way. What happened? His interesting results are below.

As much as I enjoy making extra cash by driving for Uber and Lyft on a part-time basis, sometimes as drivers we have to grind it out. Uber and Lyft have reduced the incentives for drivers in Los Angeles drastically over the past few weeks to the tune of 70%.

Quests have dropped from 30 for $120 to 30 for $55 and consecutive ride bonuses (CRBs) have been cut from as high as 3 for $30 to 3 for $9. This trend started before the holidays, continued for New Year’s Eve and through the first two weeks of 2022. Does seasonality have anything to do with this?

It could, but what I am more concerned about is that the so-called driver shortage is over. Uber and Lyft have established an equilibrium between supply and demand!

Surge is also nonexistent these days – the maps are pale white 24 hours a day. As a surge-only/mostly driver, this is not good news for me.

What does this mean for drivers like you and me? It means it’s time to grind again and hope the party isn’t over.

I Did The Unthinkable: I Let the Algorithm Dictate My Driving

As I mentioned above, Uber and Lyft have drastically reduced driver incentives over the past few weeks. I decided to go out and behave like a Diamond Ant (rideshare lingo for accepting every request).

Could I come close to my previous results of $50-60 an hour? I knew that with reduced bonuses, I wouldn’t come close to those numbers, but I wanted to find out.

I went out and decided to accept 30 ride requests in a row to earn the 20 for $45 (30 for $55) quest bonus.

After the first 12 in a row, I had it. I had grossed $113.09! I was on the road for 5 hours, and I was averaging $22.62, which included one 3 for $8.50 consecutive ride bonus.

Come on people, if this is what being a Diamond Ant is all about, you all can have it!

Changing My Strategy

At this point, it was 5 PM on Saturday, and I had been online for 5 hours. In that time period, had given 12 rides and grossed $113.09!

I thought this anting experiment was over, but Uber was offering 3 for $30 consecutive ride bonus (CRB) for a single hour the whole week. I am not the type to quit and run, so I executed plan B, which was to get my money’s worth out of the CRB.

With my DF strategy, I was able to squeeze two $30 CRBs and went home with these results. Maybe I could salvage the weekend after all.

$38 per Online hour, $43 per Active hour thanks to the change of plans!

Sunday: Time to Let the Algorithm Dictate Again!

I was able to make lemonade out of lemons on Saturday. I had completed 21 rides, I had finished the 20 for $45 Quest and had taken advantage of the single hour of 3 for $30 consecutive ride bonus (CRB). I felt good about my day.

Then it was Sunday morning, I had to go back out there and give 9 more rides to reach my goal of 30 in a row without declining a request.

I deployed my Lyft Scheduled ride strategy to end up in an Uber CRB zone. Unfortunately, stingy Uber was only offering 3 for $9 CRBs and I had another whopping $10 dollars coming my way for the staggered Quest. In three hours on Sunday, I finished this experiment (never repeated again) with the following results:

$30 per Online/Active hour

Overall Results and My Take

For any other full- or part-time driver, these results most likely would be personal bests, but for me, they are average at best.

However, without surge, drastically lowered consecutive ride bonuses (CRBs) and Quests, this is the best I could do. Part of the reason I did better was that I did switch up my strategies halfway through the experiment. This truly proves that getting out there and aimlessly driving like a Diamond Ant is what Uber wants, NOT ME!

$35 per Online hour, $39 per Active hour

$224.64/30=$7.49 per trip without promos and tips

$141.50/$383.67=37% of earnings from promos

Door to door miles driven 225, $383.67/225=$1.71/mile

$383.67/30=$12.79 per trip with promos and tips

I certainly hope that after the slow months of January and February, things will pick up for the drivers but for now, I am keeping my membership of the SHOW ME THE MONEY club!

-Sergio @ RSG