After a hiatus of over 2 years, RSG Contributor-At-Large Jay Craduer tested the waters and took his first Uber and Lyft rides since the pandemic. Did a lot change? What were earnings like? Keep reading to learn more about Jay’s first-hand experience.
What a long, strange trip it has been! I first began driving for Uber in December 2015. For the next 4 years, I was a maniac. I drove 10-12 hours a day, often 6 days a week. I amassed over 26,500 trips.
These were the glory days. $500 weekly bonuses for 120 trips from Uber. Lyft also provided some sweet bonuses. Over time, things changed but I kept driving, always figuring out a way to make some money.
- Research app changes before hitting the road again after a long hiatus.
- Driving for both apps is the more beneficial option as opposed to only driving one at a time – get started with Uber here!
- After gas, Jay was able to earn about $30/hr!
The thing about driving, regardless of how much Uber and Lyft control us, change the pay structure and manipulate bonuses and promotions, the joy of driving is undeniable and ever-present.
No matter what, I loved driving and watching the sunrise, and sharing a good conversation with a passenger. The best rides are the airport trips when the passengers are full of excitement and hope and can’t wait to tell me all about their upcoming adventure.
Covid Halted My Ridesharing Adventures
In February 2020, I took my last Lyft and Uber ride for a long while. The pandemic hit and I did not want to risk getting sick.
I found other things to do. I traveled quite a bit. I just got back from 6 months in Thailand. And now I am back.
Now it is over 2 years later, and I went out for the first time and drove for Lyft and Uber. In this article, I will share with you what it was like, what I learned, how it felt, how much I made, and whether I plan to continue driving.
Getting Started Once Again
I live in Roseville, California, so I am close to both a Lyft and Uber hub in Sacramento. I drove to both hubs, had my car inspected twice, picked up some stickers and airport placards, and then waited for the background checks to be approved.
Uber’s making it easier than ever to get started as a new driver! Learn more about their new driver initiatives here:
Lyft was pretty quick about it. It took less than a week and I could be on the road.
Uber was not so fast. Two weeks. The thing is, Uber offered me a $200 promotion if I did just 5 rides. In fact, that was what initially interested me in driving a bit.
Unfortunately, by the time Uber approved me, the promotion had expired and was not offered again. Things like this put a sour taste in the mouth of this driver.
Instead of adhering stickers to my windows, I laminated them at FedEx and placed them against the window. That way, I could remove them at the end of my shift.
With my car set up, I proceeded early in the morning to the gas station. While I was in Thailand, I read about inflation in the United States and the rising price of gas. It really hit home when I went to fill up my tank the first time.
At over $5.50 a gallon, I realized making a buck as a rideshare driver would take some diligence on my part. For every hour I drove, I was spending approximately $4 on gas (30 miles of driving at 12.5 cents per mile). Fortunately, I drive a Honda Accord Hybrid and get about 40 MPG.
Pro-tip: Use a gas-savings app like Upside review, we covered how Upside not only saves you money at most major gas stations, they’ll also help you identify cheaper gas stations near you.
Driving for Lyft After Two Years Off
I drove for Lyft in both San Francisco and Sacramento. The Lyft app is very user-friendly.
I did have a difficult time finding the destination filters, which I had used frequently back in my heyday. Eventually, I figured it out! Here were my results for 2 different 5-hour sessions:
While I made more money driving in San Francisco (due to the rates being higher), I made less money per hour when I subtracted the gas expense and the time it took me to drive to San Francisco.
Driving for Uber After Two Years Off
I did not want to drive all the way from Sacramento down to San Francisco again. Instead, I also drove Uber in Sacramento, and then I could compare Lyft to Uber, apples to apples.
Uber’s app is a bit more clunky for me, especially when it comes to integrating with Waze. Unlike Lyft, Uber does not provide a clearly marked “Navigate” button that will take me directly to Waze.
In order to get to Waze, I had to click on the pancakes, then close that window, and then I could click on the arrow in the right bottom corner to get to Waze. In order to toggle back and forth, I had to click on the blue oblong time indicator. Compare that to Lyft below.
With Lyft, everything is simple and easy to identify. I can click on Navigate and I am in Waze. To get back to Lyft, I click on their logo within Waze and I am back. Easy and simple. It’s not the end of the world, and I adjusted, but still Uber is more clunky in comparison.
New Uber driver and also struggling to understand the app? Take a look at our video below:
Here are my numbers:
My earnings with Uber were virtually the same as Lyft. I started out slower on my Uber shift, but over the 5 hours, I picked up two “Comfort” rides which pay marginally better than UberX. Also, the demand picked up, although I did have one full hour of inactivity while I was waiting for rides with Uber.
Driving for Both Apps for Greater Profits
My last trip was this past Sunday. I drove from 4:30 PM to 9:30 AM. I used both Uber and Lyft together. I turned both apps on and then took the first ride which was within 15 minutes. I started with 2 Lyft rides, but the bulk of the day went to Uber.
I earned $140 with Uber, and $33 with Lyft and I also got a $10 cash tip. That is $180 in 5 hours in Sacramento! After subtracting for gas and dividing by 5 hours, I earned over $30 per hour. That was my hourly rate back in 2019 in San Francisco! Not bad.
My Key Takeaways
First off, it was great to feel the pavement below my feet. I always immensely enjoy watching the sunrise. I enjoy the conversations with the passengers. Driving is a joy.
Second, I am not the spry young man I used to be. My body hurt after about an hour of driving. I kept moving my legs around to get some relief. I don’t think I could go back to 10 – 12 hour days even if I wanted to.
Third, I proved what I have always said, working with Uber and Lyft together is the best way to be as profitable as possible. I made an extra $10 per hour when I used both.
And finally, I think I have taken my last ride. While I love it, I can’t justify the wear and tear on my body and my car.
One good thing about the pandemic is that I got two years to focus on my Plan B of day trading. That is where my passion lies now and it does not hurt.
Still, it was great fun driving. Who knows, maybe I will do it again. Time will tell. Be safe out there.
Did you take time off for the pandemic? What was your experience coming back into the mix?
-Jay @ RSG