Uber Quests Are Changing: Better or Worse For Drivers?

We all have heard the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, unfortunately, that does not apply to the world of rideshare.

Uber and Lyft have both been tinkering with their driver apps for over a decade now and we still get weekly updates pushed on us. Why is all this necessary for such a simple business like picking up at Point A and dropping off at Point B?

My experience as a driver on these apps for the past 7 years has been one of constant adjusting, when the gig companies zig, you have to learn to zag.

These changes are implemented for one thing and one thing only, that is to confuse the driver and create a better profit margin for TNCs (transportation network companies).

Uber and Lyft possess an asymmetric data advantage over the rider and driver in a two-sided marketplace like rideshare. TNCs and DNCs (delivery network companies) will do anything and everything to incrementally improve their take rates.

Uber Quests: Out with the Old in with the New

Weekly promotions and incentives are a huge part of drivers’ earnings which may add up to 40% of their income on a  specific platform.

We always suggest stacking all possible bonuses in order to achieve maximum efficiency and profitability.

We all have been used to the old Uber Quest Bonuses for years as seen below. It boils down to a range of $1.50 to $2.25 extra cash per trip. But do not fall one short, it is a winner take all game.

Sergio's Old Uber Quest Options
Sergio's Old Uber Quest Options

It is simple to achieve and comprehend, a driver picks their Quest, completes the necessary number of trips, and gets the additional cheese on top of their regular earnings.

The higher the trip count the more lucrative the bonus, but be mindful of all the throttling games Uber will play. Imagine you have 5 trips to reach your goal with a few hours to go, the requests that were pouring in suddenly come to a halt or the algorithm will send you to Timbuktu where there is no demand.

I have been used to all these games but now there is a new twist to the Quest Bonuses as seen below. Why change Uber? I will explain my reasons at the end of the article, please chime in with your comments, what do you guys think, do you like the old Quest or the new version?

Sergio's New Uber Quest Options
Sergios New Uber Quest Options

This looks a lot like Lyft’s set the weekly dollar goal. Seems like it is nothing more than a mind game but digging deeper into the numbers may reveal something else.

Comparing my last week’s Quantity-based Quest to this week’s Dollar-based Quest, it definitely looks like another cut.

Testing the Two Variations of Quests

Let’s take the old Quest and run a hypothetical test. Let’s assume we complete both top Quests and we average $10 per ride.

Under the old format, we would receive a total of $995 (80 x $10 = $800 + $195 = $995).

With the new format, we would first have to divide the Dollar Quest by $10 to figure out how many trips it would take for us to get the bonus. So in my case, it would be $875 / $10 = 88 trips. Right away we notice that there are eight more rides which potentially could take another 2-3 hours of driving. And our total including the bonus is only $935 ($875 + $60 = $935). So not only do we have to do 8 more trips, and drive at least 2-3 more hours but receive $60 less than the original Quest.

Of course, the variability of the Quests from week to week may change these numbers drastically. Ultimately all drivers may receive different incentives in the same city. We have no control over the bonuses we receive from week to week.


Why is Uber Changing the Quest Structure?

As a veteran driver, I have a solution for everything TNCs throw at me. With the old Quest, I would make sure to knock it out quickly by doing short to medium trips, possibly with Surge and Boost. Stacking all the incentives will maximize all my profitability metrics.

But under UFD (Upfront Fares Destination), the meaning of Surge and Boost is almost eliminated since everything is bundled into the Upfront Fare.

Both TNCs called Upfront Fares as Rebalancing, I am not buying that at all. Especially when it comes to long trips.

In a recent article I have written, I proved that Upfront Fares are a massive haircut, up to 40% on long trips from the old time/distance model.

Take a look at the following ride priced at 55 cents a mile with almost a guaranteed dead mile return.

Lyft ride priced 55 cents a mile

Since we know the destination of the rider these days before we accept a request, a lot of drivers have stopped accepting these long trips and I agree.

So Uber switched to this new Quest bonus format in order for drivers to take on high-dollar trips to reach the dollar goal quicker. I say it is devious but it may also be a blessing in disguise for CPU (Cherry Pickers United) members like myself.

Target high Surge trips during the morning and afternoon rush hour as well as weekends.

My Conclusion

Does this look like what Quests are really meant to be? It sure does to me. TNCs are always looking for ways to increase their take rate.

There are several ways to accomplish that, one of the major expenses Uber and Lyft face is driver incentives. The bonuses, streaks, and Boosts have been drastically reduced since 2021-2022 and most markets are extremely oversaturated.

Every dollar cut in cost is directly reflected in the bottom line of the gig companies. The best advice I can give any driver would be, if you are going for a Quest, hit it hard the first 2-3 days, get a majority of your trips on the books, and do not leave more than 10 trips to the last day.

Always have the picture below in mind, not everyone is supposed to get that carrot.

Not Everyone Is Supposed to Get That Carrot