Lyft’s New Streak Zones: Are They Good for Drivers?

Lyft recently announced new ‘Streak Zones’ for drivers. What are Streak Zones, and are they replacing regular Streak? Senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian explains the changes, how they’ll impact drivers and, most importantly, how they might affect your Lyft earnings. 

I have been a driver on the Lyft platform for nearly six years. I have experienced the original Prime Time, the equivalent of the Uber Surge Multiplier, and I loved it.

That was replaced by Personal Power Zones (PPZ), which I despised. These pink and purple boxes arbitrarily showed up during the shift. Once you were in it, the Wheel of Fortune started and maxed out at an undetermined time and amount or until the driver received a ride request. Who comes up with this stuff?

Evolution of Lyft Bonuses

Then about six months ago, in typical fashion, Lyft copied Uber’s flat-rate Surge under the simple name of sticky Bonuses. Lyft is very stingy regarding Bonuses in Los Angeles, where I drive, mostly not exceeding $2-3.

That said, bonuses are definitely a better bonus structure than PPZ. I wish the surge was as consistent and robust as Uber, but as drivers, we have no control over these things, and we take what we can get.

Here are screenshots of Surge/Bonus from Los Angeles; who would you rather drive for?

Due to the driver shortage last year, Lyft introduced Streaks in the hopes of locking drivers down on its platform for at least three rides in a row. These streaks made driving for Lyft tolerable, as 3 for $18 Streak is an additional $6 per trip, 2x Lyft’s minimum fare. Lyft’s minimum fare is still a joke at $3.12, including the temporary fuel surcharge, but at least the streaks helped.

Lyft streaks also did not have a designated area like Uber’s Consecutive Ride Bonus (CRBs), and drivers could start all over the city as long as it was within Lyft’s day/nighttime guidelines. I have put them to good use over the past six months to increase my earnings.

So What are Lyft’s New Streak Zones?

I get nervous every time I get an email from Lyft. For the last six years, every time I got an email declaring their brilliant new ways for drivers to make more money, just the opposite took place.

I was doing fine with 3 for $18 Streaks – as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Unfortunately, Lyft’s going to do what Lyft’s going to do, and I received the following email recently:

According to Lyft, I will get a text message telling me where to go for a streak Zone. What? Why do that when I have a Streak available to me anywhere in the city? 

I know why: when the demand is strong, and Lyft does not have enough drivers in the area, they want to flood that part of the city with drivers to have enough supply for the demand and most likely kill the Surge/Bonus.

Now instead of just turning my app on and starting a Streak, I have to be within a certain Zone to get the extra cash. The new Streak Zone looks like this:

So now I have to be within that highlighted area at a certain time of the day to accept the first leg of the streak to get the extra cheese.

What do you guys think? Is this an improvement on the existing Streak Bonus system they had in place? To me, absolutely not.

In addition to the requirements above, Lyft’s streak zones are available only for a single hour of the day. I bet Lyft knows very well what hour the demand outstrips the supply, and they will put this Box on a given part of the city to find equilibrium.

Lyft is expecting drivers to flood this area to get the cash and stick around and drive more since they are out of the house anyway. No one will just work for an hour and turn the app off. For full-time drivers, it may be fine, but for part-timers like me, I will not get caught in this carrot/stick game.

This looks like the Streak version of PPZ. The box will arbitrarily show up if you are in the Zone. That’s great, but please do not rush to get in there because there probably are a ton of drivers available to receive ride requests, and you will be disappointed.

Takeaways for Drivers

Every chance the rideshare companies get, they tinker with something that drivers like. The Streaks on Lyft were available any time of the day. The 3 for $18s made driving for Lyft tolerable.

Unfortunately, this new streak zone is just another way of reducing driver pay and creating enough supply for Lyft in a predetermined area of your city.

The carrot and the stick games continue. We are all adults, and we all make our own decisions to drive for these outfits, but when they take away a viable source or additional income from me, I will not pull my punches back.

This does not mean they are eliminating the Streak as we know it, but if a few days are a trend, this trend is not your friend.

Lyft has not only reduced the number of Streaks for me, but they also have reduced the per Streak bonus amounts.

Will I chase these boxes when Lyft sends me a text message? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I get enough messages from both rideshare companies, and most are reminding me to turn my app on and drive. Have they not heard of the hottest club in town? Show me the money club (SMTMC), live every Tuesday at 3 PM PST on the RSG Youtube Channel. Join it, it is free!

Have you seen the new Streak Zones on your Lyft app? What do you think about them?

-Sergio @ RSG