Before we get started, let me emphasize that driving for Uber or Lyft is not a career for everyone, nor should it be considered a 9-to-5 job. If you don’t apply certain driving strategies during your driving shift, it will be tough to make $20/hour in gross earnings as an Uber driver in Los Angeles.
I was a full-time driver in 2016-2017, and I made good money for what seemed like an easy gig. I was driving 40 hours a week and grossing $2,500 – $3,000 consistently. Now, I only drive on a very part-time basis during the weekends, and I only drive when Uber and Lyft ‘show me the money’.
That said, if you are a rideshare driver in LA and you’re looking to make the most money in the shortest amount of time, I’ve gathered a lot of tips and strategies over the last several years!
Driving for Uber in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is the second-largest Uber and Lyft market in the United States. Both companies have been in town for years and have mature and busy operations. Overall, L.A. is a great town for Uber and Lyft drivers.
However, because the market is so large geographically, and traffic so horrendous, it helps if you know the ins and outs of the city before you start driving.
Below are some tips on where, when, and how to drive for Uber and Lyft in Los Angeles. Hopefully, these will make navigating the Los Angeles Uber/Lyft driving experience a bit easier for newbies and veteran drivers alike.
Become an Uber Driver in Los Angeles
Learn more about how to become an Uber Driver in LA:
Not an Uber driver yet but thinking of signing up? Get started below!
Los Angeles Uber Driver Strategies
Here are my top strategies for driving in LA:
1. Work Double/Split Shifts if You are a Full-Time Driver
In most cities around the country, morning and afternoon rush hour and weekends are where the money is. This is true as well for Los Angeles.
Granted, you may be stuck in traffic, but you will be able to take advantage of surge rides and increase your hourly earnings.
2. Take Advantage of Incentives Uber and Lyft Offer
I speak to a lot of drivers, and I am shocked that they mostly stick to one platform or the other. If you are not driving for both companies, you are losing out on driver incentives.
Ultimately, you must understand, rideshare is not a public service, you are in it for yourself. You are in it to make the most amount of money in the shortest period of time possible.
3. Start Your Day by Using Lyft Scheduled Rides to Put You in the City Center or LAX
A lot of drivers complain about being stuck in the suburbs where they live. There are fewer ride requests in the suburbs and your Utilization Rate (UR) will be lower.
I use Lyft scheduled rides to get me to where all the demand is without incurring dead miles.
4. Have a Proven Destination Filter Strategy in Place Once You are in the City
You have 4 between the two platforms every day. Use them to make money, unlike most drivers, who only take advantage of them to go home at the end of a shift.
Jay has also written about how he makes more money utilizing the Destination Filter.
5. Apply the Three Ps during all your shifts. Patience, Position, and Planning!
Without them, you will be earning less than minimum wage.
- Patience to only accept rides that are profitable for you,
- Position for being in the right place at the right time, and
- Planning for knowing the rhythm of Los Angeles well enough to execute your strategies.
Los Angeles Uber Driver Hotspots
As you can see in the screenshot below, the geofenced (Consecutive Ride Bonus) area of Los Angeles is where the most ride requests are:
- Santa Monica – Beach, 3rd Street, 26th
- Westwood – UCLA and Westwood Village
- Beverly Hills – Shopping areas and Sunset Blvd
- West Hollywood – Santa Monica Blvd, La Cienega
- Hollywood – Franklin Ave, Highland, Melrose area
- Downtown – Staples Center, Koreatown
- LAX – Usually, don’t bother waiting in the lot after dropping off
All of the areas above basically follow Wilshire Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd east from the Pacific Ocean to downtown Los Angeles.
More ride requests come from these seven areas (on both platforms) than any other part of Los Angeles.
If you get a ride that takes you over to Torrance, South of LAX, for example, you might want to drive toward the beaches, toward Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach.
You may get a request before you get to either, but if not, both areas are pretty busy on both Uber and Lyft.
On the other hand, if you get a ride that takes you to Northridge (San Fernando Valley), you’ll want to head Southeast toward Universal Studios.
Some other areas that are good Los Angeles Uber and Lyft hotspots include Marina Del Rey, Silverlake, Century City, Culver City, and Echo Park.
One thing to keep in mind is that because L.A. is so large, you shouldn’t expect to stay in one part of the city unless you do so with destination filter (DF) strategies. While West L.A. can produce the most lucrative rides due to surge, you will inevitably wind up all over Los Angeles.
Driving Uber or Lyft in L.A. means you could also get a ride to Orange County to cities like Laguna Niguel or Newport Beach or way east to Ontario, or even up to Big Bear.
If you find yourself far out of LA, you may want to use your DFs to possibly get you a request going towards West L.A. or downtown.
Best Times to Drive for Uber in Los Angeles
As I mentioned above, when and where you drive is the most important factor in being a top driver in Los Angeles. LA drivers should drive the following hours:
- Weekday Mornings: between 6:30 am and 9:30 am
- Weekday Evenings: between 4:30 pm and 8 pm
- Weekend Evenings: (Fri. & Sat.) between 6 pm and 8 pm, and between 10 pm and 3 am
- Weekend Mornings and Afternoons: between 10 am and 2 pm
On weekdays, a good early bird strategy is to be close to the hill that divides West L.A. from the San Fernando Valley by 5 am. If you catch an airport run, you can get back to West L.A. in time for the morning rush hour.
As with most markets, there are more airport runs on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and red-eye flight drop-offs and pick-ups are plentiful on Sunday evenings from LAX.
Of course, weekends are the most lucrative time to drive for either Lyft or Uber in Los Angeles. Early in the evening, you can catch rides from the San Fernando Valley, South L.A., or Silverlake, going to West L.A.
Once in the city, West Hollywood is the most lucrative hotspot. Later in the evening, expect a fair number of requests during drunk hours which come with its own sets of risks, so be careful!
On weekend mornings, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Silverlake, and the North San Fernando Valley are prime spots from about 10 am through 2 pm.
Tips to Avoid Los Angeles Traffic
Los Angeles traffic is a mess, there’s no other way to put it. It has gotten much worse over the last decade. Here are a few tips to help make dealing with L.A. traffic a little easier when you’re tackling this beast.
- Follow Google Maps or Waze: Follow Google Maps/Waze most of the time since Uber and Lyft’s built-in navigation is inadequate at best.
- Use Alternative Routes to Downtown: When headed downtown, Olympic & Pico are decent substitutes for the 10 if it’s really jammed.
- Use Alternative Routes to LAX: Also, you’ll want to learn the alternate street routes to LAX (Sepulveda, La Tijera Centinela, for example) for the times when the 405 is a parking lot.
- Learn the Canyon Routes: Since I mentioned the 405, learn the canyon routes from West L.A. to the valley, and vice versa since the 405 becomes a parking lot in both directions as early as 6 am.
- Know How to Navigate Busy Areas: You should know how to navigate Beverly Glen, Benedict, Coldwater, and Laurel Canyons. Also, learn the shortcuts off of Mulholland into the valley and the city.
- Use Alternative Routes to Hollywood: If you’re trying to get to Hollywood or the 101 from West Hollywood, consider taking Fountain, if La Cienega is jammed, you can take Crescent Heights or Highland part of the way.
Uber Driver Pay in Los Angeles
During busy hours, if you are a top driver like me, you can make $40 GROSS per hour driving for an Uber in Los Angeles.
However, it’s more reasonable to expect to make $15-$20 GROSS per hour when driving full-time for Uber or Lyft.
As you learn your way around the city, you’ll become more efficient and should be able to earn up to $25 per hour or more consistently.
Also, part-time drivers who earn the most tend to drive during the busiest weekday hours or weekends only.
Is Driving for Uber in Los Angeles Worth It?
As with anything else in life, what you put into your specific work is what you get out of it. Knowledge is power, and so is experience.
Rideshare driving may seem like an easy gig from the outside, but it comes with its own challenges and with a steep learning curve.
LA drivers, do you agree with my tips and strategies? New drivers, what questions do you have about driving in LA?