Starting on Monday, August 24, 2020, Lyft is launching priority mode in Miami, Austin and Toronto. This new feature is meant to keep drivers busier and therefore earning more per hour.
When the pandemic hit and driver earnings dropped significantly, Lyft decided to launch priority mode as a test to help drivers in the areas where it was available. Now, they’ve tweaked the program based on feedback and suggestions from drivers in those areas.
The hope is that this will expand to other markets in the future, but for now it will only be available in Miami, Austin and Toronto.
Priority Mode: How Does it Work?
So, what is priority mode? It gives drivers priority access to ride requests. How it works is that it will be available to different drivers at different times. If it is available to you, you have the option to turn it on to start receiving requests faster than drivers who do not have it available during that time.
You’ll have access to a few priority hours each week and if it’s not available when you’re ready to go online, check back later. The priority hours do not carry over from one week to the next, so it’s a use them or lose them situation.
It’ll help decrease the time between ride requests, allowing you to get those ride requests over other drivers who don’t have priority turned on or available at the time. This should help you maximize your time on the road.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that your rates will be lower for each ride you take in priority mode, but you’ll get more rides, so you should earn more overall. You can check your driver app to see your priority rates after it launches on August 24—remember, it’s only currently launching in Miami, Austin and Toronto.
You will have a limited number of priority hours you can use in one week and this will reset each Monday at 5am in your local time. Once you turn it on, you can keep it on all day or until your hours run out, or turn it off at any time.
This new priority mode will not be available at airports and therefore will not affect the queue. It is also only available to drivers who accept all ride types on the driver app in preferences. The priority rates will only apply to standard rides, but you may still receive requests for Lyft XL, Lux, Lux Black, or Lux Black XL.
To start off, this feature will only be available to a limited number of drivers in the available markets—Miami, Austin and Toronto—but Lyft is working toward making it available to all drivers in those areas, and then also expanding to other markets.
How Will Lyft’s Priority Mode Help Drivers Earn More?
Even though the priority mode rate card is lower than your regular rate card, you should receive requests faster and complete more rides in a shorter amount of time – therefore earning more.
After your first few hours of priority mode, Lyft will email you a summary of your earnings compared to what non-priority drivers earned during the same time in your market to show how much more you’re earning over the average non-priority driver.
You can use it with destination mode on, but it kind of defeats the purpose. You’ll be limiting how many ride requests you’ll be getting simply because you’ll only be paired with riders along your way to your destination. It would be more efficient to not use priority mode combined with destination mode.
Overall, I like the idea of priority mode, but I am a bit skeptical. No driver ever wants to hear that their rate card is being lowered, but “don’t worry, you’ll earn more this way.” It always feels like a bit of a slap in the face.
As far as drivers coming out ahead, it depends on how much lower the rate card is – if you’re a driver in one of the three affected markets (Miami, Austin, or Toronto), send us a screenshot of your priority mode rate card!
If it’s just a few cents different, drivers should come out ok or ahead. If it’s a significantly lower rate, drivers could come out even – or worse. We won’t know until we see the rate card earnings from these markets.
However, I do like the idea of being busier while I’m out on the road. It’s a good way to get drivers to commit to one platform for a larger part of the day. If I’m busy with Lyft all day, I’m a happy camper and more than willing to stay on that platform until the well runs dry.
I’m also a little unsure about how the non-priority drivers will be treated. I would be pretty frustrated if I’m not a priority driver and don’t get any requests or have to wait long periods of time before I get a request. Granted, I would have no way of proving if it was a priority driver taking away my ride requests or if it was just a slow day in my market.
When/if it comes to my market of Minneapolis, I’d give it a shot and see how it works.
Drivers, what do you think about Lyft’s new Priority Mode? Would you like to see it come to your market?
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-Paula @ RSG