Senior RSG Contributor Sergio (Surg-io) Avedian has been driving for Uber and Lyft again the past few weeks. He is taking advantage of the lucrative promotions both companies have been offering. As a high-earning Uber and Lyft driver, Sergio has cracked the code for earning more: driving surge-only. 

    Disagree with Sergio’s methods or find they don’t work in your city? Let us know in the comments below!

    First and foremost, rideshare driving should never be considered as a 9-5 job even if a driver chooses to do it on a full-time basis. There are 168 hours in a week and some of those hours will produce higher driver earnings than the rest. 

    Part of the success I’ve had over the past five years with this gig is that I studied the surge patterns in my city of Los Angeles by taking screenshots and making mental notes of when and where to drive. 

    Surge is not a mythical creature that a driver needs to chase; these patterns repeat themselves multiple times throughout the day and night. 

    From the first day I started driving, I tried to do only surge rides. They made a tremendous difference in my past and current success to become a top-earning driver in Los Angeles

    Now is still one of the best times to be a rideshare driver in many cities, especially if you live near or around an airport (holiday travel!). Sign up here to be an Uber driver and maximize your earnings this holiday season. 

    There are three things guaranteed in life: death, taxes, and Uber/Lyft cutting rates. In Los Angeles, base UberX rates are 60 cents/mile-21cents/minute, and base rates on Lyft are 80 cents/mile-12 cents/minute! 

    Without surge and other promos, most if not all rides are money losers.

    How to Adapt to Surge-Only Driving

    One caveat I have to acknowledge: I drive in a major city, it makes life a little easier. However, it is by no means easy or without thought. 

    I drive when and where there is demand – period. If I just drove from 10 am to 3 pm daily, I bet my earnings wouldn’t even be half of what they are. With the base rates (crumbs on the U/L dinner table) I mentioned above, being a profitable driver is almost impossible. 

    So this past Halloween weekend, I decided to drive. I knew Los Angeles was ready to party for three days straight. I decided only to drive when the lucrative promos Uber was offering overlapped with surge to maximize my earnings. The results speak for themselves!

    I did 30 rides that weekend, and all 30 were on surge. Am I just lucky? NO! 

    I will have a breakdown of my net fare of $537.39 below. It will definitely prove that surge only/mostly driving makes a big difference in your bottom line. 

    Study the surge patterns in your city, and try to adjust your driving hours to take advantage of it, otherwise at base rates driving for pennies is not going to cut it.

    The difference between making or losing money in this gig is not accepting every ping Uber and Lyft algorithms throw your way. 

    Be selective, don’t worry about your acceptance and cancellation rates. Rideshare driving is not a public service; we are all out there to make the most amount of money in the least possible time.

    Here are a few rides from the past Halloween weekend; where would I be without surge?

    Analyzing 30 Rides on Halloween 2021

    It took me a while to put this spreadsheet together, but the results are eye-opening. It proves that driving when surge is present is the only way to make money in this gig; without it and possibly lucrative bonuses, I will not turn my engine on.

    As you see below, out of the total fares earned of $537.39, $219.61 came from surge. A whopping 41%! 

    Without surge, I would be driving for crumbs. 

    Takeaways for Drivers: Surge Driving is Where You’ll Make Money

    Drive when demand is outstripping supply. In your individual cities, surge may not be present like it is in Los Angeles but I assure you, it is there. You just have to study the patterns for your city, quite frequently, because they repeat. 

    I have always been a surge-only driver, from the days of the Multiplier to Flat Rate Surge. With extremely low Base Rates, surge is the only positive left in this grind that is rideshare driving.

    -Sergio @ RSG

    Sergio Avedian

    Sergio Avedian

    Sergio has been driving Uber and Lyft for about five years. He has over 6000 rides on both platforms, mostly on Uber. Sergio has a degree in finance, and worked on Wall St. for over eighteen years. In his free time, he still trades stocks and derivatives for himself and a few friends. He is also a PGA certified golf instructor, teaching golf is his passion. Sergio is married with two wonderful kids who take the rest of his afternoons/weekends between their soccer practices and golf tournaments.