Some may think driving for Uber WAV is a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be stressful! Training is provided to get you comfortable with storing and securing wheelchairs and more. RSG contributor Elliot shares his first-hand experience driving with Uber WAV.

    After almost 14,000 Uber rides, I’ve recently started driving one of their Wheelchair Access Vans (WAVs). I’m renting a Dodge Grand Caravan, and being a WAV driver has been the most profitable Uber driving I’ve done.

    For the current week, I’m at about $36/hour with 23 driving hours. This average will go down once you deduct the rental cost (currently $400/wk for me—I know, pricey) and gas. The average also changes each week, because of the differing promotions, tips, etc.

    But, as is usual with Uber rentals, the more you drive, the more you make per hour. If I drive a 40-hour week, it seems I make a little less than $30/hr after all expenses. Plus, I’m strictly a daytime driver; nighttime drivers typically earn more.    

    Note: I spoke with a Lyft rep who said they offer WAV driving as well. But so far, they don’t offer to rent such vehicles, which has to cut down on the number of WAV drivers they have. So, come on Lyft—step your game up!

    Quick Summary:

    • Driving Uber WAV can be more profitable than just driving Uber X
    • Simple training and renting a WAV-eligible vehicle is all you need to get started
    • WAV passengers tend to seem more grateful and may tip higher than average
    • Want to try driving for WAV? Sign up here!

    Becoming an Uber WAV driver

    The Uber WAV requirements are simple—you just have to pass a training (on top of the standard Uber driver requirements). The ones I’ve seen occur at Avis Uber-rental locations. To sign up for a training from the Uber driver app, you:

    1. Go to “Account”->”Vehicles”->”View Rental Options”.
    2. Go to “Wheelchair Accessible Van”->”Avis Rentals”.
    3. Scroll down, and in the “Next steps” section, click on the link for signing up for the next training slot.
    4. Scroll down, and choose “Schedule an appointment”.
    5. Enter your zip code and the locations and times for the next trainings nearby will appear. Just choose the one that works best for you.

    At the training, a trainer shows you how to load, secure, then unload a wheelchair, as well as a few recommended do’s and don’ts. This can be done in as little as fifteen minutes individually, but there are usually other trainees present as well, so the class typically takes longer. Allowing an hour for the entire training should be more than enough time.

    First-hand experience

    I’ve had no problem with the WAV rides I’ve done so far. The riders have been agreeable and appreciative. The most time-consuming part has been loading and securing the wheelchair, but like with anything else, you get better at it with time.  

    To secure a wheelchair:

    1. Lower the ramp out of the back of your vehicle. (Watch your hands here; there are certain sides of the ramp which are sharp/abrasive, and you can scratch your hands if you do it without paying attention. Again, practice makes perfect…)
    2. Wheel the rider in, and secure the wheelchair as trained. There are four floor attachments, and also three parts that form a seatbelt. Again, this is difficult and probably unnecessary to explain here, but you just follow your training. 

    Note: Keep in mind, reading these steps is not a replacement for taking the required training.

    All told, securing a wheelchair shouldn’t take much more than five minutes, especially after you get used to it. And when you drop off, unsecuring it is a breeze—you just basically reverse the steps.

    Like most kinds of Uber driving, the thing that makes WAV driving worth it for me is the bonuses. I drive in Boston, and I don’t know if the bonuses vary in other areas, but here WAV drivers:

    1. Get $120 for doing 30 rides (of any kind) per week.
    2. Get $200 for doing 50 rides.
    3. And get a $15 bonus for every WAV ride completed.

    It’s pretty simple for me to do 50 rides/week, and along with the $15 WAV bonus and the usual Quest bonuses, driving WAV has been more profitable than the other types of Uber driving (mostly Uber X and Uber Eats) I’ve done.  I’m estimating maybe only 10% of the rides I do are WAVs, but that extra $15 for each of them seems to add up.

    Earnings and promotions while driving WAV for one week

    Pros and Cons of Driving WAV

    WAV Driving Pros:

    1. It genuinely feels good helping people who’d otherwise have far fewer transportation options. (I’m a secret do-gooder.)
    2. I haven’t taken the time to go through every WAV ride and actually analyze this, but part of me feels because the riders are more likely than others to appreciate the service, if you do a good job, you may receive a higher-than-average amount of good ratings and tips. 
    3. Some WAVs are pretty easy:
      1. Someone’s moving, and they just need to use your larger vehicle room to transport a bigger item, etc.
      2. Someone has an electric wheelchair, and can just roll into your vehicle and be secure, w/o needing some of the securements, straps, etc. used for most wheelchairs. One thing—regardless of what the rider says, it’s your responsibility to make sure they’ll be VERY SECURE during the ride.
      3. Sometimes someone selects a WAV and doesn’t have a wheelchair at all. (From what I’ve heard, WAVs often don’t cost more than Uber Xs.)  So, then you get a more profitable ride, without any extra effort at all!

    WAV Driving Cons:

    1. Gas mileage. I think I might currently be averaging around 14.5 mpg.
    2. WAV pickups tend to be farther away (I assume because there are fewer WAV drivers). And securing the wheelchair does take extra time, and a bit of extra effort.
    3. I don’t know if all WAVs are like this, but I’ve found the WAV Grand Caravan to not be the most intuitive vehicle. It has to be in park before the driver can open the doors for the rider, and with a lack of patience being common these days, that’s led to many riders trying to open the doors themselves and failing, then trying to pull/fight/wrestle with the doors as they’re moving—they don’t have to touch them; the doors are automatic. Sometimes when this happens, this leads to the door jamming temporarily, which means they have to get in on the other side, etc.  Though this can be hilarious at times, when you’re dealing with it multiple times a day it can also be annoying. So yeah, it’s good to have an even temperament when doing WAV driving.

    Final Thoughts on WAV Driving

    One thing to be aware of—my experience involving signing up for training was EXTREMELY unprofessional. I signed up for a training that was at 8 am, and 40 miles from me. When I arrived, I was told they had no record that a training was supposed to occur then. I had my confirmation email, which I showed the woman at the counter. She asked if I could wait in their waiting area while they tried to sort things out.

    Long story short—after spending about an hour waiting while she calls various higher-ups to no avail, I’m told the training just isn’t happening then (no one knows why), and that it’s pointless to wait around any longer.  So. I ended up driving 80 miles round trip, and taking several hours (and gallons of gas) out of my day, completely for naught.

    The next day, an Uber rep did call me and apologize, but when I asked him if I could get some compensation for the time, mileage, and effort I expended, he said he’d work on it. And even though I followed up with him a few weeks later, as of this writing, I STILL haven’t received any compensation.

    I don’t know how often things like this occur, but yeah, the whole experience was extremely unprofessional and inconsiderate. I was able to schedule another training that actually did take place, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this kind of thing has happened with other drivers as well.

    Another note—it’d be good if there were YouTube videos showing how to secure the wheelchairs. The in-person training is adequate, but (especially if, like me, you’re not mechanically inclined AND are a perfectionist) it’d be good to have something visual to look at before you just learn how to do it efficiently through experience. Videos are so much better at that kind of thing than printed guidelines.

    So anyway, that’s been my experience as a WAV driver. Overall, I enjoy it, and the extra money WAV offers is good as well. If it seems like something you’d be interested in, I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot!

    Elliot has been driving for Uber in the Boston area since 2016. When he’s not driving, he enjoys tutoring, arguing over/reviewing movies and TV shows, and…WRITING ARTICLES ABOUT RIDESHARE!

    -Elliot @ RSG

    Melissa Berry

    Melissa Berry

    Melissa is the Managing Editor and Chief of Staff for The Rideshare Guy. She has been featured in Inc. magazine, CoMotion News, and The Sacramento Bee, among other publications. Melissa focuses on breaking news, tech statistics, green technology, and politics + labor. Prior to joining The Rideshare Guy, she worked in Homeland Security and Emergency Management for local government.