Rideshare vs Food Delivery: Which Gig Was Best?

I came up with an idea last week. Why don’t I add food delivery to my gig repertoire?

I had never delivered anything other than passengers, and I had preconceived notions about food delivery.

After spending a weekend with food delivery, here are my findings on rideshare vs food delivery.

Rideshare vs Food Delivery: Why I Resisted Food Delivery

When I started rideshare driving back in December 2015, food delivery was not a thing. Unless I wanted to work specifically for a pizza company, food delivery was not an option.

Then, companies like Postmates, Caviar, Grubhub, and DoorDash began to pop up over the years, later, Uber jumped into the game with Uber Eats.

There are eight significant reasons why I was resisting food delivery:

  1. Parking
  2. Traffic
  3. The Hours
  4. The Smell Of Food In My Car
  5. Difficulty In Pleasing The Customer
  6. I Hate Waiting
  7. No Human Interaction
  8. Lower Pay Relative To Rideshare

Over the weekend, I only received one delivery request. Here’s how my opinions changed, stayed the same, or strengthened based on my weekend experiences.


1. Parking

The parking situation in San Francisco, where I used to work, is notoriously bad. There are few parking spaces, and they are usually taken. Therefore, you must double park and hope you don’t get a ticket.

However, I expected the parking situation to be better in Sacramento. My ping for food delivery came in at 8:15 am. I had to drive three minutes to a Jack In The Box on the corner of Antelope and Sunrise in Sacramento. Parking was easy.

I was the only customer when I entered the Jack In The Box. I told the young man behind the counter I was there to pick up the order for my customer Jamie.

After picking up the food, I drove to an apartment complex. Here, parking took a lot of work, and there were only a few spots available.

It was Sunday morning, and most folks were home, so, I did what I assume most drivers do, I parked in someone’s private spot and ran with my food to find the apartment number of my customer.

Even in Sacramento, parking was not easy. I returned to my car after 5 minutes of searching for the apartment and was relieved my car was there, no one was yelling at me, and no windows were broken.

2. Traffic

I hate traffic, I do everything I can to avoid it. Traffic is inefficient, time is money in our business, and sitting in traffic does not pay.

That is why I love driving at 4:00 am. I own the roads, red lights, and stop signs are optional and it is always smooth sailing.

But people don’t eat at 4:00 am, they eat at lunchtime and dinnertime, and those are the times when traffic is at its worst.

Although I did not run into any traffic at 8:15 am, I would have to confront traffic if I were to commit to food delivery. This remains a big negative for me.

3. The Hours

I’m a morning person, I wake up and get to work, and I am typically in bed by 7:30 pm.

The best time to deliver food is in the evening, which is my worst time. So the hours just don’t work in my best interest.

4. The Smell

I admit to being a picky eater, I don’t eat fast food.

After I delivered the fast food meals on Saturday morning, I returned to my car, and it was remarkable how my car reeked of fast food after a 5-minute drive.

It was unpleasant, to say the least, but fortunately, I had Ozium in my car and gave it a good spray.

I then drove down Sunrise with the windows open for a few miles to remove the odor. I could not hang with my car smelling of food throughout the day.

5. Difficulty In Pleasing The Customer

When it comes to rideshare driving, I am the complete product. I provide the car, witty banter, a smooth ride, and soothing music.

With food delivery, I don’t create the food, I also can’t control how long it takes for the food to be prepared, nor how long it takes to get the food from the restaurant to the customer.

I have often received an Uber Eats meal, and the food was not hot. While it was not the delivery driver’s fault, since my experience was not pleasant, I am far less inclined to leave a tip.

I like to be in control, with food delivery, many elements are out of my control.

6. I Hate Waiting

I got to Jack In The Box, and I waited. I waited over ten minutes while the breakfast meals were prepared.

The folks at Jack In The Box were quick to prepare the drinks, so, I realized this was only the beginning of the process.

Food delivery requires a lot of sitting and waiting, I hate waiting. I’d rather work in an environment where I am constantly in motion, earning each minute of my work day.

7. No Human Interaction

The best part of being a rideshare driver is meeting some incredible people and having great conversations.

There is none of that in food delivery. The lack of human interaction is why some like food delivery, but for me, I need human contact.

8. Lower Pay

If there were more money in food delivery than rideshare driving, I would have to reconsider some of my positions. But there needs to be a financial incentive to deliver food.

The screenshot below shows that I earned $5.05 for 16 minutes. That is including a tip.

I don’t know how Uber calculated 16 minutes because I actually spent:

  • 5 minutes driving to the restaurant
  • 10 minutes of waiting at the restaurant
  • 5 minutes driving to the customer
  • 5 minutes of parking, walking through the apartment complex, going up the stairs, and then returning to my car

That is 25 minutes, not 16.

my food delivery pay

If you remove the tip, I would have only earned $3.55. That is between $10 to $20 an hour.

With rideshare driving, I am earning an average of $30 an hour, which is a significant drop in earnings.

I realize it is possible to make more with food delivery with larger orders from more expensive restaurants, and tips tend to increase as order size increases.

My Personal Takeaways

I Will Not Continue Food Delivery

Over the weekend, I did just over 50 rides. In all that time, I was offered only one food delivery opportunity.

Indeed, I would get more delivery opportunities if I drove for DoorDash, which only delivers food.

I signed up for DoorDash, but they told me I had to wait, that was three weeks ago, and I still can’t drive for them, and now I don’t want to.

DoorDash Waiting Period
DoorDash Waiting Period

Rideshare Driving Is My Perfect Side Gig

Rideshare driving is the perfect side gig for me.

Let me drive in the early morning, with real human beings, in an environment where I can make a decent amount of money.

  • No waiting
  • No parking
  • No fast food smell
  • No traffic

I’m in the right place! And for all of you that love food delivery, I say “thank you” for bringing me my Chipotle carnitas bowl. I’ll be happy to drive you to the airport some morning!

RSG’s Sergio Avedian also gave delivery driving a shot and had a different experience than me. Read about his experience in his article From Rideshare to Delivery Driving.


Takeaways for Drivers

At RSG, we encourage you to give all areas of gig work a chance to see what works best for you.

Some people are better suited to rideshare driving, while others will shine as delivery drivers. Others still can toe the line between the two and have the best of both worlds.

Learn the best delivery options in your area and try to sign up for them. While I couldn’t Dash, it could have been a game changer for my weekend trying out delivery.

Even if you have a list of reasons why you don’t want to try delivery, you can give it a shot and compare your experience to your list and see if there is any way to resolve the issues.

It’s possible you’ll realize it’s worth it in the end or you’ll realize definitively that delivery driving is not for you. Either way, you gave it a shot and learned something about yourself.