Being an Uber Driver in Los Angeles

Senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian is a driving champ, averaging $40/hour driving part-time with Uber and Lyft. What are his secrets? Below, he shares his ultimate guide to driving in Los Angeles, what a driver can reasonably expect to make driving in the City of Angels, and can’t-miss traffic tips.

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Before we get started, let me emphasize that driving for Uber or Lyft is not a career, 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.

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 $2500-3000 consistently. But as we all know, the race to the bottom between Uber and Lyft sucked the life out of a wonderful gig over the past 6 years.

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 driver in Los Angeles 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! Here are my top strategies for driving in LA.

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My Top 5 Driving Strategies for Los Angeles Uber and Lyft Drivers

1. Try to 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 all the Incentives Uber and Lyft are offering by driving for both apps. 

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.

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. Use Lyft scheduled rides (definitely better than Uber Reserve) to put you in the city center or LAX to start your day. 

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 (DF) 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. I have written multiple articles in the past explaining my DF strategies, especially when Uber and Lyft offer Consecutive Ride Bonuses (CRBs).

5. Apply the three Ps during all your shifts. They are 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.


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The Los Angeles Lyft and Uber Drivers Guide

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 driving.

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/ 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.

Where are the best neighborhoods to drive for Uber and Lyft in Los Angeles? 

As you can see in the screenshot above, 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 towards 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.

santa monica photo

When are the best times to drive Lyft or 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.

Lyft and 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 Lyft and Uber in Los Angeles. However, it’s more reasonable to expect to make $15-$20 GROSS per hour when driving full time for Lyft and Uber.

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. So don’t expect to drop the kids off at school and earn a living doing rideshare in L.A.

Los Angeles Traffic – Uber & Lyft Route Tips

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.

los angeles traffic photo

Follow Google Maps/Waze most of the time since Uber and Lyft’s built in navigation is inadequate at best. 

When headed downtown, Olympic & Pico are decent substitutes for the 10 if it’s really jammed. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Takeaways for Drivers

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.

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Rideshare driving may seem like an easy gig from the outside, but it comes with its own challenges and with a steep learning curve.

I still drive, mostly to write articles for RSG but when I drive, I put the three Ps into action. After all, I don’t drive unless Uber and Lyft show me the money!

LA drivers, do you agree with my tips and strategies? New drivers, what questions do you have about driving in LA?

-Sergio @ RSG