Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Phone or Tablet for Rideshare Driving?

This decision really just boils down to personal preference.  They both do the same thing when it comes to the rideshare app.  Some people may prefer to use a phone because it is smaller and more manageable while some, like me, prefer a tablet since the screen is larger and the phone is free to take phone calls (when you don't have a passenger of course).
Here is a pic of my setup.  Unfortunately, there is no Uber bonus or Lyft bonus for going the extra mile and increasing the cost of your rideshare setup.  If you are worried about breaking your tablet, just leave it at home and use your phone. 

Tablet Setup for Rideshare

And another photo
Photo of Tablet setup for Rideshare

I use a special mount, available on Amazon, that slips into the CD player and uses a magnet to hold up the tablet.  The magnet is very strong and I have had zero issues with the Tablet sliding out of position or falling.

Uber or Lyft?

Uber or Lyft?  that seems to be a fairly common question these days. Rarely is a passenger ignorant to the fact that Uber and Lyft are both options to use as a rideshare service and that they are in heated competition with one another. Because of this, I often get asked the question of which platform do I like better or why do I drive for one and not the other when I decline to tell them that I drive for both (as I almost always do).  As a driver, I honestly do not think that one is significantly better than the other, but, they do have some night and day differences.  Before I spell out those differences, it is important to understand that everyone has a different personality type.  One person may prefer Uber over Lyft or Lyft over Uber as a driver.  I myself typically find myself driving with the Lyft platform, but, I like to have both options as a driver because my personality type likes to have choices.  After all, that is why I am a rideshare driver.  I like being able to wake up in the morning and make my day whatever I want it to be.  I might want that day to be waking up late, eating a good meal, watching some TV and then getting the car ready to catch the Lyft evening prime hours. Maybe I am in the mood for waking up early in the morning and working the surge pricing zones on the Uber platform when the city is flooded with frantic passengers trying to get to work.  My advice to anyone wondering, try both and see which one strikes you as the best fit.  If you are determined to choose only one and feel like signing up for both is a waste of time, here are the major differences that I have found between the two.

Lyft and Uber pay differences

As with many things, people often find that their choices are financially driven.  How you earn your pay is probably the biggest difference between these two platforms.  To start, tips and their impact on your overall earnings.

Receiving Tips

Uber Tips

As of right now, Uber (specifically Uberx as this is what I drive when using Uber), leaves passengers with the impression that tips are built into the total charge for the trip.  Because of this, you will rarely get tips from passengers when driving Uberx.  It doesn't matter what you do to go above and beyond with your services.  It doesn't even matter if you get to the pick-up point with pin point accuracy and lightning speed, get out and open the door for your passenger, give them a bottle of water or candy, ensure you have a charger for their phone, pick the fastest route, avoid every pothole and drop them off in the same manner you picked them up.  With Uberx, you are just rarely going to get a tip.  Why? Because people rarely carry cash on them these days and Uberx does not give the option to tip your driver in the platform when the ride ends.  Additionally, in the rare circumstance a passenger does tip you, Uber instructs you to inform your passenger that tips are not necessary and are built into the platform.  Uberx does not ban receiving the tips, but requiring Uber drivers to instruct passengers that the tip is already included seems to imply that this will not change any time soon, or ever. Uber also now takes a 28% cut of the overall fare.  Because Uberx is a tipless platform, you will often find yourself driving through congested traffic for 10+ minutes to reach your passenger, waiting 5 minutes for your passenger to arrive, driving them a couple of miles back through that congested traffic for about 10 minutes while netting less than $3 for your effort.  At that rate, without tips, you are averaging roughly $7/hr before fuel costs, those snacks/water given away thinking it might get you a tip and the income taxes you have yet to pay. I have netted pay of only $2.88 for a ride on many occasions with Uber.   Refer to image below as an example.
Uber Pay

With Uber, you have got to know when/where to drive or you will get stuck with a long list of $2.88 net fares.

Lyft Tips

Lyft has it down when it comes to tips.  If you are a good driver, courteous to your passengers and actually have a genuine, caring interest about your passengers comfort and satisfaction with the trip, you will get plenty of tips.  If you do it right, you will get more trips with added tips than without which is a huge contrast to Uber in which you will get FAR more trips without tips than with.  I have received tips that were more than the fares themselves with Lyft. Here is a snippet one of my driver summaries with Lyft to bring that point home.
Lyft Tips
If you compare that to the previous picture showing the $2.88 net fare trips, you will notice two things.  1) passengers, if they think you did a good job, will tip and will often tip more than what you would have received in fares alone on those short trips. 2) The $3.37 fare with Lyft was from a trip that was the same distance + time as the Uber $2.88 trips, meaning that Lyft pays more on short trips to begin with.

Prime Time and Surge Pricing

Uber Surge Pricing

Uber has what is called surge pricing.  It works in specific zones that are experiencing high passenger demand.  When the demand gets high enough, Uber implements a multiplier on the trip fare.  I have seen this multiplier spike to almost 6x when a football game had just ended in downtown.  Although a 6x surge multiplier could mean some major income on even the short trips, it rarely gets this high in my area. During the high demand hours, I usually see a multiplier range from 1.5 - 2.5.  Not as high as 6x, but still fairly decent.  These zones usually do not cover the entire city and are in isolated sections.  Additionally, these zones update in real time so the area you are in could be 1x one second and 2x the next, or 2x one second and then back down to 1x the moment before you receive a ping leaving you with a standard net fare in a zone with high demand.  The trick to working surge pricing is to know your city well enough that you aren't chasing these zones when they pop up and you are already in an area during a time known to trigger surge pricing.  If you end up driving for Uber, sit back before you go online and study the map.  Watch for areas that constantly flash in and out of surge and at what times.  Knowing where and when to be in a certain area will pay huge dividends when driving for Uber.

Lyft Prime Time Pricing

With Lyft, prime time pricing does not use a multiplier like Uber.  Instead, Lyft uses a percentage. On your phone, or tablet if that is what you use like I do, you will see an indicator at the top telling you that the fare in the area you are in is 25-75% more.  So with Lyft, prime time hours often do not have the price increase that you see with Uber and their surge multiplier.  Even though prime time does not see as significant of a boost as Uber, it seems that the heat map is typically larger and stays up longer while Uber's heat map may reflect surge pricing only long enough for you to change areas and then go back to normal prices.  That has at least been my experience when driving during prime time with Lyft.  It seems that with Lyft, I am more likely to get increased fares when in a high demand area than I am with trying to get Uber's surge pricing.

Types of Passengers

Passengers with Uber

I do not know how this is for the rest of the drivers out in the rideshare world, but, I find that Uber passengers are more talkative, humorous and laid back. I seem to generally end up with a younger crowd of passengers than I do with Lyft.  Maybe it is just my region and the exact opposite is true in other areas.  This is a subject you might want to do a little bit more research that is specific to your area.  Take a Lyft and Uber ride and talk to your driver to get their impression about the average personality types they see in their vehicles.

Passengers with Lyft

With Lyft, I seem to get more "mature" individuals.  What I mean by this is that I typically end up picking up passengers that are a bit older on average than I see with Uber and who like to engage in conversation that is more involved. With Lyft passengers, I often find myself talking about my car, it's MPG, reliability and so on while Uber passengers I am typically conversing about how awesome was whatever event I picked them up from. My personality lets me have a good time in either situation, but, you may find that your personality is more abrasive toward the average passenger of one service and a delight to average passenger of the other.

Bonuses for Passenger/Driver Referrals

Passenger/Driver bonuses from Uber

Uber gives bonuses for referring passengers and drivers.  However, what they give as a bonus for passenger referrals is typically credit so that you can take an Uber ride yourself at a reduced cost or free.  Bonuses for referring a driver, however, can be quite significant.  The amount for referring a driver is tied to the region in which the new driver is located and varies drastically but typically ranges from $75 to $750.  Both $75 and $750 are rare numbers and it is likely that your area will be giving you $100-$300 for bonuses if you refer your friends/family/co-workers.

Passenger/Driver bonuses from Lyft

Lyft gives bonuses for referring passengers and drivers.  Referring a first time passenger will net you anywhere from $10-$20 and Lyft has a connection with vista print that will let you get cards with your referral code on it very cheaply.  Driver referral bonuses are similar to Uber from what I have seen although I did refer an out-of-state friend that will only be netting me $10 bucks, that is if he completes the required 30 rides in 30 days.
Lyft also offers what is called a power bonus.  If you meet the required standards for the time frame, you can get a 10-20% bonus on top of your pay.  The image below is what is in my dashboard as I right this.  Meeting the standards for this bonus is not too difficult, even to get the 20%.  This is especially true if you are a full-time rideshare driver.  To get the 10%, you need only 10 rides during peak hours with 30 total on top of a 90% acceptance rate.  The 20% requires 15 peak hour rides and 45 total rides on top of the same 90% acceptance rate.  If you are a full time driver, 45 rides is nothing and Lyft has 8-10 peak hours on Friday and Saturday and two hours each day of the rest of the week.  Even if you only drive on the weekends, 15 peak hour rides will go by very quickly.
Lyft Power BonusLyft Peak Hours

The App

Uber's App

Uber has two separate apps for passengers and drivers. With the passenger app, you can see all Uber vehicles in your area.  With the app you use to be a driver, called the Uber Partner app, you cannot see any of the other vehicles.  You can only see yourself and, if applicable, the surge zone multiplier map.  If you want to check where other drivers are, you have to keep both apps running and switch between the two.  If you are in the suburbs and looking to take longer, higher paying fares instead of shorter, quicker fares, you want to be able to see the map and know if there are 100 other drivers in the same low demand area.  Constantly switching between apps can be a hassle, and, it is also a drain on your phone's resources.  If you are a driver that prefers to just stay in the high demand areas, then this is less relevant.

Lyft's App

Lyft has an all-in-one app.  The riders and drivers both use the same app.  To use it as a driver, you need only click on the steering wheel indicator and you are instantly in driver mode.  With this it less cumbersome to figure out where all the other drivers are.  The downfall to Lyft's app is that some of the links within it take you into your internet browser instead of displaying the info within the app.  For example, iff you want to check to see if someone claimed a passenger referral yet, then you click on "driver dashboard" within the app.  Instead of displaying the relevant content in the app, this button opens up a new tab in your internet browser to display the info.

Getting Paid

Getting Paid with Uber

Uber pays out every Monday.  Whatever you earn over the course of the week will be direct deposited into your bank account.  I enjoy a weekly schedule with payouts over a bi-monthly or monthly option, but, Uber doesn't seem to give you an option to pick or change how you get paid.

Getting Paid with Lyft

Lyft uses a similar payout system that Uber has.  You get paid your earnings that you have accrued over the course of the previous week.  The difference with Lyft is that Lyft has an express payout feature.  Once you earn more than $50, you have the option to use the express payout option that will direct deposit your money within only a few hours.  The drawback to this is that Lyft takes a small charge out of the pay to do this.  The charge is relatively insignificant though and is only like .50 cents.


So it is up to you to decide which one is "best" as it will be a choice that you have to live with.  For me, both present great options and I enjoy driving for both instead of just one.  Like I have mentioned previously, I like to have options. And it doesn't have to be Uber or Lyft, it can be both.  If I want to worry less about finding surge areas and make up the difference in tips, then I drive with Lyft.  If there is a huge event that is about to end, then I like to drive with Uber and pick up the multipliers.  That is just my style of rideshare driving.  Whatever you choose, I have no doubts that you will enjoy the world of rideshare driving as it is an adventure!