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I’m a driver for Uber and Lyft — here’s exactly how much I make in one week on the job

I made over $100 on Friday night, for $19 an hour — but not without some controversy.


Kelly Sullivan/Getty

This was an interesting night.

After giving hundreds of rides, I can definitively say that Uber is more popular than Lyft in my area. Uber accounts for about 60% to 70% of all the rides I have ever given. 

However, on this night, for hours I was questioning if my Uber app was even working, or if there was a server issue on Uber’s end. I restarted my phone, twice. I even contemplated reinstalling the app, thinking there had to be a glitch. I started working at 6:06 p.m. and didn’t get an Uber ride request until 9:26 p.m.

Before that, it was all Lyft. I have seen a stretch where it was only Lyft requests for maybe an hour or so, but I have never seen a stretch where for over three hours it was only Lyft requests.

It started out as a decent night, with mostly short rides from hotels and dropping people off at bars and restaurants. I love this crowd because nobody is too tipsy yet, but they are tipsy with their spending habits, and usually throw a couple extra bucks my way.

There was a stretch where it was very slow, so I signed off and took a long break, since it was probably going to be a long night.

My third Uber request of the night came while I was still on a ride — Liz, an estimated 8-minute drive — with a pickup spot right near where my current drop-off was. It was getting very busy downtown, and Uber was surging because of it. It’s a short ride, but I’ll take a short, easy drive any day. 

However, as it turned out, Liz was anything but easy. It’s busy, there’s tons of traffic, and I’m sitting at the intended pickup spot, and there’s no Liz in sight. A car is honking at me. The cop directing pedestrian traffic is glaring menacingly at me to move as I’m blocking part of a lane.  

Liz, where are you? I have now been waiting almost five minutes and there is no passenger. 

Five minutes came and went. I waited another 10 seconds for good measure and sorry Liz, but I’m not waiting anymore. Time for me to cancel the ride, mark you as a no-show, and charge you a cancellation fee. Sorry, but you have literally cost me money by not being ready.

Making matters worse, I was never granted my $5 cancellation fee from the company, even after a lengthy back-and-forth with its support team — the representatives I spoke with claimed I never waited the full five minutes. But I didn’t have time to argue, because I suddenly got a ride request for a 56-minute trip, with surge pricing to boot.

The long drive was nice. It was a woman and her dad, who told me he was a retired emergency room surgeon, going up north 41 miles away. It started raining so hard that I slowed down to 30 mph on the highway, and we could barely see out of the windshield, but the dad’s stories kept everyone calm, laughing and entertained. He told us some crazy stories, some sad stories, and even some hilarious stories, one of which involved a man with unexplainable lower abdominal pain and an X-ray of a pickle jar — with two kosher pickles still in the jar — shoved somewhere a pickle jar should never be shoved. I was laughing so hard I was nearly in tears.

I completed the ride and he handed me $15 cash and thanked me for driving so well in the monsoon-like rainstorm. A one-hour long ride for $43 and a $15 tip, for basically $58 in an hour — sweet!

At this point, it’s near 11 p.m., I’m 50 miles from my house in the middle of nowhere, and I was getting tired, so I set the destination modes on both Uber and Lyft. That’s the setting drivers activate when they’re on their way home, ensuring they’ll only get matched up with passengers going the same way.

Lyft drivers used to be able to use destination mode six times per day. But after a recent change, drivers are now allowed only two uses available, a significant downgrade. It counts as a “use” as soon as you activate the mode.

Thirty minutes later on the highway, with no rides, I get a text notification from Lyft saying, “Sorry! We couldn’t find you a match along your route, so we’ve signed you out of driver mode.” Excuse me, what? So I set the destination mode again at a red light as I drove near a known busy area. 

30 minutes later, I get the same notification and I’m signed out. I have no more destination uses available.

I am still logged in on Uber. For reference, the Uber app does not log you out if you go 30 minutes without receiving a request. It will keep you logged in until you reach your destination.

I arrived home shortly later with only one short ride on the entire way back.

Two trips on Uber for $68.28, eight trips on Lyft for $40.66, for a grand total of $108.94. I worked for 5 hours and 44 minutes, making $19.00 per hour, and driving 140 miles.

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