My First and Last Day as a Lyft and Uber Driver

As we know side hustles come in all shapes and sizes. In my efforts to try and earn some extra money while between jobs I decided to finally muster up the courage to try driving for Lyft and Uber. Now I had already gone through the registration process months before – which took about twenty minutes on the mobile app. I also had obtained the Lyft and Uber designated stickers/decals that go on the vehicle in the mail -which took about a 1-2 weeks to receive.

Apprehensive about my future as a long term driver, I decided against peeling off the decals and permanently placing them on my vehicle. Instead, I placed scotch tape on them and carefully taped them to the inside of my windshields for easy removal.

I gassed up to a full tank the night before so that I could maximize my miles per gallon on the road. So with decals set, gas tank full, water, banana and tortilla chips on deck I decided to head out!

I begin the day around 8:15 AM. I then departed my residence and decided to head in a direction that I thought was going to have the least amount of sketchy people along with higher chances of getting tipped. Now the morning traffic was still pretty heavy, so I decided to get off the expressway a little bit earlier and take a different route. As soon as I exited, I turned on my “availability” and got a message to pick up my first Lyft rider.

Even though this was not according to my scheduled plans, I decided “what the heck let’s give it a shot! I’m in a pretty decent area so I’ll go for it.” So I made a b-line and went to pick up my first Lyft rider which was at an apartment complex. I was able to easily and quickly locate the rider as they then entered the backseat of my vehicle and we headed out to their destination (which was roughly 15 minutes away). Now this destination was going in a slightly different direction than where I had originally hoped to peruse around. Nonetheless, I still didn’t mind the area as it was a pretty decent part of town. Upon arrival at the location, I dropped the passenger off and wished them well. The rider was pretty quiet the whole time and didn’t cause any difficulties.

I was so geeked that I had overcome my fears as I was tempted to tell them they broke my “Lyft virginity” …but I opted to keep that to myself as I didn’t want to look like a “rookie” or weird for that matter.

The first ride amount said that I earned $5.20 for driving 4.3 miles for a total of 16 minutes. I figured …hmmp maybe I’m on to something here – plus I’m in nice area so let’s keep the Lyft app up and see what the next one looks like. So I kept myself “available” and I got in immediate request for another rider – which was only two minutes down the road. Unfortunately though, the location was very difficult to find and after turning around I finally found the building and waited outside for the next rider. They then came out of the building once I confirmed my arrival and hopped into the backseat of my car. Their destination said it was only 1.3 miles down the road but it actually ended up taking me about 10 minutes to get there. The payout was $3.75. Seeing a pattern I didn’t want to go down, I decided to “go unavailable” and get out of that area as I figured it would be more of the same quick pit stops equating to chump change. I also remembered a Lyft driver telling me previously that those quick rides are not good on your vehicle in addition to you not getting good payouts.

So I decided to go back to my original plan which was to drive towards the more affluent area. As I headed in that direction, I saw that I was approaching a “high demand area” so I flipped back on my availability and hoped that if I picked anyone up that they would be going towards the direction I was originally hoping for. Turns out – nope! I received a request for my third rider and after again finding it very difficult to find the location of the rider, once I picked them up I ended up heading back towards the direction that I just drove from. Ugh!

I was a bit tickled because I was trying to avoid that area but I ended up driving in that direction anyways (seem like gravity was just pulling me in that direction).

That ride was 5.38 miles and it was calculated that it took me 16 minutes. The payout was another whopping $5.90.

So after dropping the passenger off, I decided to “go unavailable” again to drive further up the road to what I thought would get me out of having to return to that area. As I got far enough up the road, I turned myself back to being “available” and was shocked to see that no one was requesting a ride. At this point, I was far from my originally planned location, but decided to continue to wing it to see if there would be more requests. Still striking out, I decided to head in the direction where there was more high demand. So as I proceeded to head in that direction, I finally got a ride request. Again, the location was very difficult to find and it took me quite a few u-turns and backtracking to find it. Thankfully the individual sent me a text message of the name of the townhouse complex and their unit number. So I end up picking them up and driving 15 minutes down the road. Now this was a shared ride that got cancelled – I suppose because I took too long to find and pick up the first rider that the second rider decided to cancel. I don’t know if that affected my payout but after driving 3.71 miles down the road the payout only said $4.63.

After this, I decided enough is enough….go back to the original plan and head towards that direction. So I then turned off my availability again, hopped onto the expressway and headed towards that direction.

Now at this point, I had been driving about 2 1/2 hours and really needed to use restroom so I decided to stop at a store to take a quick break before I took another ride. Ready to take my next rider, I was now in the original area that I mentally planned on to begin with. As soon as I was nearing the area, I turned back on my availability and I immediately got a notification for a ride request at this well-to-do hotel. It was not at all difficult to find and once I picked them up the app told me their destination was the airport. Hooray! I was so excited as I had heard airport runs are what you want to shoot for as they are one the most profitable. And indeed it was as it was by far the best ride of the day. Even though the ride put me out of the area that I was hoping to stay in ,I was glad for it as it was indeed the most profitable ride of the day.

I received $15.73 for a 19.64 mile ride that took me 26 minutes. The rider tipped me five dollars in cash so it ended up being a $20 Lyft ride. Excited a for more rides like this, I decided to try and hang out at the airport to see if I could get another ride. I soon found out though just how dog-eat-dog the airport territory is. Obviously, I was late to the party as others had discovered what I had experienced the previous three hours.

Unable to wait in the designated cell phone lot, the security guard informed me that there is a separate lot for ride share drivers to wait in (which was about 10 minutes down the road). So I drove there only to be greeted by a slew of waiting vehicles! When I get there the Lyft app tells me that I am number 55 in line waiting behind other riders. At this point, I turn on the Uber app thinking “okay, let’s see if the Uber app has anything quicker.” Well I quickly find out Uber is no better …as the app tells me I’m number 78 in line! As I sit there and take a quick scan to my left and right, I see people: eating lunch, doing work on computers, and taking phone calls. Basically just sitting there!

I thinking to myself, “wow! these people really are just sitting around waiting for a ride request. There is no way I am going to sit here for an hour or however long it takes for this queue to go down to my number.”

So I decide to leave the lot and go to where I see a high demand area again. As I head out to that direction, I get an Uber notification that someone has requested a ride that was six minutes away. So I drive to that location, pick them up and see that they are headed to guess where? To the airport…. where I just came from! Now I hadn’t gone far so I knew this wouldn’t be as lucrative of a ride as the other one (since I was much further away). Total ride 6.21 miles at 13 minutes for $6.07.

After I pick them up and I drop them off, at this point the Atlanta airport traffic started picking up. With it being the busiest airport in the world, I am reminded that this is not a place that I really want to hang out; because trying to get in and out of those drop off zones is a headache!

We are now four hours in, and I am beginning to wane. I think to myself, “I can’t do this much longer and plus I’m only at about forty bucks or so in earnings.” Mentally about to tap out, I then decide to just go offline (on off both apps) and head back towards the direction of where I live (which was about 25 to 30 miles away).

As I head back in the direction of my home, I decide to try this “filter” in Lyft to only except any ride request from people who were headed in my direction (Fyi- you only get six times you can use this – otherwise you have to just take what they give you when you accept a ride). As I drive back I notice no one has requested a ride, so I decide to get off the expressway a little bit earlier and take the a few back streets to see if that would help. I figured I was close enough to my house to where it wouldn’t be so out the way if I got a small ride request. Well I did get a request and picked up what would be my last rider for the day – who was headed in a direction that was not too out-of-the-way. The rider was pretty chill and I later found out that they tipped me two dollars on the Uber app. 4.65 miles and 12 minutes for a total earnings of $7.00 (including the $2 tip)

So at this point, it’s about 12:30/12:45p. I’m hungry and mentally depleted. I’m ready to just call it a day. So I arrive back at the house five hours later with a total earnings of $51.28.

Plus $5 cash tip

So now let’s do the math. $50 divided by five hours of driving is $10 an hour give or take (not to mention the wear and tear on my vehicle). I used about a quarter of a tank of gas which btw it takes $30 to fill up my vehicle. So if I used 25% of my gas that’s $7.50 deducted from my total earnings off the bat.

Now we’re down to $42.50. If we divide $42.50 by five hours we get a total of $8.50. Folks that’s a little that’s just a little over minimum-wage.

Oh yeah, I’ll also mention that you’re only able to instantly cash out if you’ve earned more than $50. Otherwise you have to wait until they payout which is between 1-7 days.

The whole time I was driving I kept saying to myself how are people making a living off of this???? This has to be the most time wasting, low-value side hustle I have ever experienced. Not to mention the whole time you’re stressed because you can’t find the location to pick people up and then when you finally do you are stressed about making sure you don’t get into an accident and that you’re paying attention to the road to not miss a turn so you won’t get delayed in dropping them off because you want a five star rating and tip.

It’s just stressful the whole time.

It’s also difficult to find any momentum especially if you’re not in a high demand area or driving at a high demand time. You’re driving around trying to find where the high demand is because no one’s requesting a ride. I suppose the big rave about Uber and Lyft is related to when there are surge times. So if you just driving during a normal day, at best, you’re only going to make minimum-wage.

I don’t have the energy to find out if the surge driving is even worth it because I heard that surge pricing or driving during those times involves either driving during rush hour traffic, late at night, driving from festivals or big events, etc. I really don’t like to do any of those things as I choose to avoid the crowds and the traffic. So I won’t ever find out if the surge times are really worth the money.

I think you have to be incredibly desperate and incredibly bored in order to drive for Uber or Lyft. Because it’s just not worth it.

Lastly, I’ll say I was initially apprehensive about driving because I didn’t know what type of people I would be picking up or if they would mess up my vehicle. You know like bring food in there, spill things, throw up, tear up my upholstery, or just be terrible and disrespectful people. I just heard so many horror stories about really terrible Uber and Lyft driver experiences that I was just really apprehensive. But I thought I’d still give it a try while I had the time in between jobs to see if it was something that would be sustainable (as I heard people were doing this for a living).

If there is anyone out there who is thinking the same things or having the same apprehensions…know that at the end of the day… the people weren’t actually as bad as I thought that they would be. Don’t get me wrong – I still believe there are some creepers out there, but my experience was actually surprisingly good and I encountered decent people who respected my vehicle. I didn’t feel any of them were crazy or that I feared for my life. So for that I’ll say that if you worried about that …. know for the most part people are pretty decent but if you’re really trying to make money doing this I would say reconsider and do something else.

Because it’s just not worth it.


For those who still want to give it a shot- sign up using my promo code below:

DA5CHBVAUE -UBER Promo Code – Driver Sign up

KRYSTLE16821 -LYFT Promo Code -Driver Sign up

*update- I drafted this blogpost two days before the news of a strike by Uber/Lyft drivers

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