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Driver Experience Essay - Uber and Lyft with a Tesla Model 3

I wrote the below throughout 2019 and the first few months of 2020. When the pandemic hit in March 2020 I stopped rideshare (both as a driver and rider) and am now considering whether to get back into it once I'm vaccinated. Hope you find the essay below interesting (or helpful if you're considering ridesharing your car yourself).
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Like most, I’ve been a longtime rideshare user. I signed up first for Uber, then tried Lyft, because they convinced me they were the “driver-friendly platform” amidst Uber’s public struggles with corporate misogyny and driver treatment, and because Lyft has a partnership with Delta where I earn SkyMiles for rides taken. Over the years I had a few nice conversations as a passenger but mostly just rode quietly and didn’t think much about the plight of drivers.

In late 2018, for reasons still unknown to me, Lyft began targeting me with ads in the rider app encouraging me to become a driver. Maybe they were recruiting everyone, I don’t know. That same fall, I took delivery of a brand-new Tesla Model 3 that I’d pre-ordered 2.5 years earlier. I work in software and make a good 6-figure income, but I was curious, had occasional spare time on my hands, and am evangelistic about electrical vehicles and feel that simply “getting butts in seats” in electrics is the best way to convince people to stop buying gas cars.

Lyft targeted me at an opportune time – I wouldn’t have considered ride-sharing in my previous car (a 2008 Prius) but I was eager to show off my fancy new all-electric toy, the recruitment efforts made me wonder what it was like to be a driver, and the economics of not buying gas made the financials more attractive. As a rider, I was also curious: What degree of interviews or background checks take place before drivers start picking up strangers under the Lyft brand name? What were riders like – does everyone tip nearly 100% of the time like I do? How much extra money could I really make?

I downloaded the separate “Lyft Driver” app and followed the prompts to sign up, entering personal details and uploading photos of my driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance card, and providing permission for a background check to be conducted. No results or information about the background check were ever provided, but there was nearly a three-week delay between data entry and driving approval, so either something really happened, they were just backlogged with onboarding drivers, or the delay was meant to create the appearance of a vetting process. Whatever happened behind the scenes, I was approved to drive and received voicemails and emails over the next couple weeks encouraging me to get started, and the Driver app guided me through various tutorials about etiquette, setting up payout info, what happens when a rider cancels, and the like. (A year later, for reasons I’ll get to, I signed up for Uber as well. The process was much the same, except Uber actually provided me a copy of my background check report so I know they in fact did one.)

After a few weeks of delay (and a bit of nervousness about letting strangers in the car) I outfitted the vehicle with what I considered the tools of the trade: industrial-strength floor mats, backseat phone-charging cables, and a magnet-mount to hold my phone in place while driving. (I have never provided water/mints/etc – more on passenger-giveaway amenities later.)

When I got out driving, I did mostly weekend-days and ended my efforts before the late-night bar crowd got started, though I also did some weekday mornings and evenings before/after my day job, and once in a while a couple hours in the middle of the day when my work schedule had odd meeting arrangements leaving a mid-day gap. It struck me quickly that business-users like myself, while certainly part of the ridership, were not the majority. Ridesharing reaches across nearly every demographic and use case; there were a lot of retail workers, commuting from apartment complexes to shopping malls and fast food restaurants. There were party-goers and barflys, of course, but also many families picking up groceries, students getting to and from the library, drug users going out to or home from a score, reeking alcoholics going to the liquor store at 10 AM, and the simply unlucky who had been in car accidents and couldn’t afford to repair their cars.

While the stereotype encounter is that the passenger just wants quiet and the bored driver just wants to talk, I found that riders were split into three essentially equal groups: a third who just want quiet, a third who want to talk about the car, Tesla, or electric vehicles, and a third who want to talk about some non-car topic. One employee commuting home from an office-supplies store needed to vent for a 20-minute ride about his tyrannical boss. One very drunk 20-something taking a 3-minute ride from one bar to another informed me that while I thought I was helping the environment with an electric car, they’re actually worse than gas. One lonely guy talked all through the ride, and into his driveway, and then for nearly 5 minutes sitting in the driveway, with no encouragement, commentary or questions from me – I was about to pull the “well, I’ve gotta go” card when he finally decided of his own volition to exit the car.

Probably the most memorable ride in the first year was the aging stripper who was in transition from one abusive relationship to another. Apparently she’d been beaten at her boyfriend’s house and stormed out, walking a couple miles to a shopping plaza, to catch a ride coordinated by an ex-boyfriend she was going back to. Of course I didn’t know any of this as I drove to the designated location. Pickup was made difficult because, when I reached the shopping plaza, found no one, and called the rider from the app, I reached Savior Boyfriend who told me to “just hang tight a while” as she was walking to me, was unreachable due to not having a phone with her, but “in a bad situation” and really needed a ride out of there. Lyft terms of service gives the rider 5 minutes to get in the car, and she arrived, frantic, 10 minutes after I’d parked. On the ride I heard how Savior Boyfriend was also abusive, but, for the moment, less so than the one who’d been hitting her an hour ago, and at least his house was a warm place to sleep. She asked if we could make a stop on the way, she had left her purse at work and it was on the way anyway – work turned out to be a sketchy-looking strip club with a mud parking lot, and the “less than a minute” stop to run inside turned out to be more than 10 minutes, because she ended up briefing her boss on the boyfriend situation and negotiating the next week’s dance schedule. On the road again, she said that she had published books (I never found out what they were about) and never seemed to take a breath while relating in detail the personal limitations of both boyfriends to the complete stranger in the driver’s seat. At dropoff, Savior Boyfriend met the car and gave me a $4 cash tip, while winking and telling me that, as a driver himself, he knows how much farther it goes it when they can’t track it ($4 goes about the same distance either way, for the record).

Tipping was another area of surprise – as mentioned previously, as a passenger I tip effectively 100% of the time, as rideshares are so much cheaper and more convenient than cab arrangements and it was my understanding that, comparable to restaurant staff, it is the tips that make driving worthwhile and sustainable. I figured everyone was like me but I was very naïve. Less than 5% of riders tip – this may be an overestimation, it could be more like 1%, but regardless it is a vanishingly small percentage.

The rationale for this is understandable when you step out of the paradigm of a business traveler, likely on expense report and relatively well-to-do besides, paying for rides and tips with someone else’s money. When you’re commuting to a $16/hour job (or less), and paying $16 each way to get there and back, you’re already losing a huge portion of your earnings.

It may also need to be said that I’m an educated, articulate late-30’s white man driving a brand commonly perceived to be outrageously expensive. (While some Tesla models are legitimately six-figure cars, Model 3 starts at about $38K and mine was $55K including self-driving software licensing). I think this may impact tipping, oddly, both increasing and decreasing tips depending on the person. Some have overtly said “you must be rich” while others have said they appreciated the opportunity to see a Tesla in person and would be tipping to say thanks (and generally the latter category followed through).

Speaking of finances, the hourly revenue I’ve taken in has ranged from $0 to $50 (the latter was a long ride with no traffic and a hefty tip) but the average has been consistently in the $10-$20 per hour range. This is impacted heavily by when and where you drive, of course – there have been times where I sat for an hour or so, got no rides, and just went home. Remember, revenue (in this case meaning the amount the rideshare company deposits into the driver’s bank account) is not the same as profit, so after a rideshare driver with a traditional gas car subtracts gas and maintenance expenses, profits will likely be significantly lower.

If you’re running the engine to stay warm and you get no rides or only a few in a given hour, you could be in the hole financially, paying more for gas than you earned on rides. The day-to-day operation economics with an electric car are different; maintenance is near-zero due to the scarcity of moving parts, and electricity is a much lower-cost way to operate a vehicle, even while idling just to run the heater or A/C. Places like shopping malls, grocery stores, office parks, hotels, and more are now offering free charging to entice traffic. I have a few spots around town where I’ll spend idle time getting free electricity, but even when I’m paying for it myself plugged in in my garage, I usually spend around $5 in electricity per $100 in rideshare earnings.

Drivers are paid on a combination of time and distance, and in my market Uber pays about 17 cents per minute and about 66 cents per mile, after a “base fare” of 87 cents which is essentially a find-rider-and-pick-up payment.

In short, if a rideshare driver is trying to make a living at it, they are working very hard, very long hours and I would argue should be considered comparable to waitstaff; not-tipping should be reserved for egregiously poor service and the default expectation should be 15-20% tip (while rideshare companies take a cut of the fare, tips go in full to the driver). Cash tips are not necessary, using the app is fine, but don’t believe anyone who says drivers can’t/won’t accept cash tips. We can and we will.

In addition to the financial impact, we should consider the life-impact that rideshare can have, on the drivers and their families. On the positive side, of course, the extra income is nice and can fund any number of things the driver or the family wants or needs to do. Personally, I have a child with health challenges and rideshare income has helped defray the costs of a private school environment more attuned to his needs. For some, it’s just a reason to get out of the house and interact with people, however superficially, during periods like retirement or job transitions which can be lonely. And for me personally, while I was initially worried about the risks of interacting with strangers and putting them in my car, in over a year of casual rideshare I’ve had literally zero real problems. There were a couple of annoyingly-drunk people, a couple of entitled you-are-my-servant type attitudes, but nothing that I would consider a substantive problem. The behavior and considerate-ness of my passengers has actually restored my faith in humanity a bit – people are fine, really, and more often than not go out of their way to be nice to each other.

This said, especially for new drivers learning the ropes, there can be negative outcomes too. For one, peak demand is at the times you would expect; morning commutes, evenings/nights, and especially weekend nights – right at the times when family dinners, bedtime stories, date nights, or the like are most likely to occur. And because drivers typically don’t know when accepting a ride how far they’ll be going, or in what direction, you can easily end up much farther from home than you intended.

There is also the risk, for some driver personalities, of chasing a particular financial outcome to the detriment of family life. In my personal case, after a couple months of driving I was becoming more confident and decided that if I drove really hard during a reunion event at a large local college, that I could earn a lot in a single weekend; I wasn’t sure how much but I figured it would be substantial. I told my wife when I went out Saturday evening that I’d be driving late, and not to wait up – she wasn’t thrilled, but she agreed. The event included many late-night and all-night parties, with demand for rides radically outstripping supply, and as I’d hoped riders were paying a premium, sometimes up to 4x what rides would normally cost. It was a financial windfall – but it was all taking place in the middle of the night. I couldn’t turn away from these rates, making so much money so easily essentially running a shuttle from campus to nearby hotels, and I kept driving. When my wife woke up at 3 AM, saw I wasn’t home, and called me, I had a passenger in the car and bumped her to voicemail. I called her back to tell her I was still driving, had many passengers still in my queue to get to, and had to go. She was, to put it mildly, less than thrilled about me unexpectedly staying out all night. I ultimately made $1,000 revenue that weekend, but the stress on my wife (and admittedly the wear on me too) caused us to more clearly negotiate the rules of engagement for night driving. (The net result is that I rarely do it, partly because I don’t want the risk of someone from the party-crowd throwing up in the car.)

Around the time I transitioned from rider-only to driving, Lyft had marketed themselves successfully, to me and many others, as the “driver-friendly platform” and was also looking better than Uber because Lyft at least wasn’t dealing with charges of rampant corporate misogyny. For almost a year I didn’t even look into driving for Uber, I was content to be Lyft-only and felt a little morally-smug about it, if I’m being honest. Of course I didn’t need the income, driving was only a side-hustle, and I was a newbie who didn’t really know much about either company. Lyft, when I started, showed the driver a transparent view into the financials of each ride, with a breakdown of what the rider paid, what cut Lyft took, and what was left for the driver. After a few months when looking at the payment details of a particular ride, I noticed that Lyft was no longer showing what the rider paid, only my portion of the fare. This seemed anathema to the “driver-friendly” marketing position Lyft had taken, and I did a quick Google search about the topic.

This led me to an article about an internet forum that serves as the virtual water-cooler for the rideshare industry, UberPeople, and I read stories from many drivers about how Lyft is a sub-par competitor to Uber, pays less, has less transparency, has inferior technology and apps, and is overall derisively referred to as “pink Uber” since Uber’s color scheme is mostly black and Lyft’s is mostly pink. These stories resonated – Lyft does frequently give me pickups 18 minutes away, doesn’t pay anything for the time and mileage to get there, then it turns out the ride is 2 miles and results in a minimum fare payout (about $3.50)! These drivers were very clear-eyed about the situation; both companies will try to squeeze as much out of drivers as they can, but if you’re serious about making any money doing this, Uber has the rider volume and a better compensation system, and Lyft is only to be used opportunistically when Uber is not busy.

I signed up for Uber, and everything from the onboarding process to the way the app works just seemed a bit more polished than Lyft. Since signing up to drive with Uber I’ve been doing what most drivers on the forum do, with a slight twist. Most drivers use Uber as their primary rideshare focus, and turn Lyft on only occasionally, or leave Lyft running in the background and simply ignoring Lyft requests when Uber is busy. (This hurts a driver metric called AR, Acceptance Rate, but everyone’s Lyft AR is very low and we all just ignore the frequent “you are hurting the community by missing ride requests” emails that Lyft is continually sending.) My tweak is to use a ride category my car qualifies for called “Lyft Lux” which is a more expensive ride in a nicer car – so I deliver normal rides on Uber (their higher tier requires commercial insurance I’m not serious enough to get) and opportunistically take Lux rides on Lyft. My take-home has gone up using this strategy, and I’m grateful to these internet strangers for the (frequently profane) education they’ve provided.

As I’ve been driving I’ve kept a notebook in the car to jot down anecdotes or thoughts for this article… Below are some of the things I felt worthy of recording but didn’t fit in cleanly to the narrative thus far.

I had a Lyft ride where the passenger named displayed as something like “GoGo Robert” and immediately after accepting I received a text with a message about how Robert may need some extra time getting in and out of the car. I later researched this ride and found out that it was from “GoGo Grandparent”, a company which has put some additional services catering to an elderly population around rideshares. The gentleman took a 30-minute ride, and reiterated the same phrases like “back when 79 cents got you a coffee at McDonalds” dozens of times.

GoGo Robert was much more able than other rides I’ve had; there are numerous organizations who use rideshares to transport people with various medical needs, most commonly from one appointment to another, but sometimes home from an appointment. Probably a half-dozen people have been unable to get in and out of the car on their own, and a couple of these were so obese that I was concerned they were going to damage my door leaning on it so hard, with no wheelchair or walker available. I blindly accepted these as a newbie driver, and it’s sometimes not obvious when a person is getting in the car how impaired they are, but when the situation is obviously risky I decline these rides on-the-spot and inform the rider (ideally a nurse or other caretaker is nearby) that I am not a medical transport and this is not what rideshare is for.

Once I picked up a rider on a slow Sunday morning, and her route was taking us directly past a Starbucks I frequent. She seemed casual and not in a rush, and I was in need of a coffee, so I asked her if she minded if I stopped at the Starbucks, and offered to get her something while I was there to make up for the delay. She asked for an iced coffee, easy enough, and I pulled into the parking lot. She then asked if I would get her a breakfast sandwich while I was there, since she hadn’t eaten yet that morning. I figured I was now getting a decent tip to make up for this, since her order added up to nearly $10, but I didn’t say anything about it and agreed to bring her sandwich. I completed her $8 ride and she never tipped, apparently thinking it was Free Starbucks Day – I suppose she was right.

Uber and Lyft have a different approach to rating passengers; the Lyft app rates all passengers 5-stars (perfect) at drop-off unless the driver takes action within about 2 seconds to provide a different rating. Uber makes the driver explicitly rate each rider, without the timeout. It’s my understanding that a driver with a rating below 4.6 is at risk of being removed from the Uber service, but it’s not clear if Lyft has a similar threshold for drivers, or if either platform has any threshold for removing passengers whatsoever. Both apps promise the driver that they will never be paired again with someone they rate 3 stars or lower.

I picked up some college students who were enamored with all aspects of the car and said “this is the future, and if the entry-level price comes down even just a little we could be the first generation to never drive on gas.”
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Happy to answer any questions or hear any comments from the community!
 

DaveG_NJ

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Oct 7, 2020
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NJ
Thank you for writing this - it was very interesting! I've often thought about driving for Uber or Lyft when I'm between work contracts. I have to say, I'm not really surprised that people don't tip (something that really irritates me), especially when you're driving a Tesla.

BTW, where roughly in Jersey?
 
Interesting read, thank you. I've on occasion rolled the idea around in my head on being an uber driver occasionally after my 7 to 4pm job, just for 'play money'. My wife and I make plenty and live comfortably, decent retirement contributions and all - but all the toys I want are $1k+

Whenever I've taken in Uber in the past, admittedly just 5 or 6 times, I seem to consistently end up with Arab fellows that don't speak english very well :)
 
I've had some nice / interesting / in-depth discussions with passengers. Maybe they appreciated the ability to converse with someone with - but if they did, not enough to tip for it.

I guess in short my advice @BobDole is that if you're driving to show off the car, or get out of the house, or combat boredom/loneliness (a little, rideshare driving can still be boring/lonely), or make a little side money, or get a tax writeoff for the mileage - all that you'll get. But if you expect to be financially rewarded for exposing people to a higher-end vehicle, or for being a professional, or having good English skills, or doing extras like helping people with their bags at the airport - in my experience, you won't.
 
@wise82guy - thanks for writing this. You wrote:
... Both apps promise the driver that they will never be paired again with someone they rate 3 stars or lower.

I'm curious what the average rating you see on your passengers? Your post prompted me to look at the rating I've been given as a passenger. It is 4.71. I was hoping it would be closer to a "perfect 5" - as I think I've been a pretty good passenger and generally tip. Though from what I've read, a driver usually can't tell who gave him a tip and who didn't - unless, of course, he gets tipped in cash.
 
@wise82guy - thanks for writing this. You wrote:


I'm curious what the average rating you see on your passengers? Your post prompted me to look at the rating I've been given as a passenger. It is 4.71. I was hoping it would be closer to a "perfect 5" - as I think I've been a pretty good passenger and generally tip. Though from what I've read, a driver usually can't tell who gave him a tip and who didn't - unless, of course, he gets tipped in cash.
Most riders are typically above a 4 - anything below a 4 will cause me to consider declining the ride (and negatively impacting my Acceptance Rate), especially if they're more than a couple minutes away.

You can see tips in the ride history, and if you remember something about the ride then you could piece together who the tip came from - but the rating happens immediately upon dropoff, before you can see ride history and generally before the rider has tipped. So it's not like a rider can tip in the hopes of getting a 5-star... if you did something to cause your driver to rate you low you won't be able to tip your way out of it.

Though I would say as a driver, if you did something to get rated below a 5 as a rider, in addition to taking your down-rating and hopefully learning from it, you should still be tipping - because again, like with the restaurant industry, the expectation should be that a tip of some sort happens except in cases of egregious failure.

One other note, when rating below 5 you can input notes about why you're doing so, but I don't think the platforms communicate that back to the rider in any way, which is unfortunate because riders don't necessarily always know what they did to get downrated - things like making the driver wait a long time before getting in the car, or stinking up the car from smelling like smoke, or saying something that makes the driver feel uncomfortable but not want to get into an altercation about, etc.

FWIW, I've probably rated 98% of my riders as five-star, and if I'm downrating for something I try to be as fair and reasonable as I can about it.
 
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Thanks for sharing - that was informative/ entertaining - I don't need really need a car, and occasionally dream of finding a good reason aka an excuse to get a Tesla - so that's that - a neighbor has a Model X, registered in his company - maybe I should talk to my accountant ;D
From what I gather, Uber/ Lyft is far easier to make a profit off in NJ than in NYC or NY for that matter.
 
A few updates for those interested - I've gotten back into rideshare driving again since the post at the origination of the thread.

I got my first vaccination in mid-March, opened the Uber Driver app out of curiosity to see what demand looked like - and was met with a promotion offering $100 for giving 3 rides. I wasn't fully ready to jump back in until fully vaccinated, so I gave 4 rides, pocketed $143, and stopped driving again. In late May they offered me the $100-for-3 promotion again, and the second time it had Uber's desired effect of bringing me back into the driver pool more reliably - that first week back I made $311 in ~10 hours. I've been doing around 5-20 hours of driving per week since late May (fluctuating based on what's going on in life).

As before, I've been effectively exclusive to Uber... often I run the Lyft app in the background on Lux-only, and generally ignore the ride requests which are seemingly always 15-20 minutes away. Uber has been plenty busy, with pickups generally a reasonably close distance, which has kept me off Lyft almost entirely.

Last week Lyft offered a $250-for-20-rides bonus that convinced me to drive for them - but it takes something that lucrative to get me back onto Lyft. I changed back to accepting all ride types on Lyft, left Uber signed out, delivered exactly 20 rides, and stopped and switched back to Uber. About half my Lyft rides required unpaid pickups 10 minutes away or more, and in general the caliber of passenger was lower on Lyft compared to Uber - by that I mean more riders made me wait (and wait longer) before getting to the car, more had to be asked to wear a mask or didn't have one at all (some gave me hassle about mask-policing, something I almost never get with Uber riders), more smelled like smoke or BO, more were going to/from undesirable/impoverished areas, more had rides-with-stops (more on this later) and were pretty unhurried about getting back to the car after their stop - and almost no one tipped (1 tip in 20 rides in a friggin' Tesla at base-fare rates). Last week with ~11 hours on Lyft I made ~$450 (including the $250 bonus, so those 20 rides only netted ~$200 with a whopping $4 in tips) and ~$220 in another ~9 hours on Uber (no bonus), for a total of ~$670 income on ~20 hours work.

The average week for me lately is probably more like ~$250-$300 in ~8-10 hours - last week's higher earning was an anomaly at the intersection of Lyft's promotion offer and my wife and kids being away, leaving me with more free time and the ability to drive later into the evenings without disturbing anyone upon return. Much has been said about the increasing costs of decreasing reliability of rideshare lately (I've heard at least three stories on my local NPR station) related to the post-pandemic driver shortage... I can say that my average per-hour income has gone up, primarily as a result of more frequent Uber surge pricing (the Uber Driver app shows a map where there are increased payments based on demand) and more frequent tipping. In my original post I estimated tipping to occur less than 5% of the time (though this may have been skewed by driving more for Lyft during the time it was written), but post-pandemic and driving mostly for Uber I would ballpark it at around 30% of riders. And a few tips have been particularly generous, like $10 on a $30 fare - that kind of thing never happened (to me at least) pre-pandemic.

Now, I want to say something about rides-with-stops... Drivers hate them. Most rides are from location A to a dropoff at location B - those are fine. What I'm talking about are rides from pickup location A to stop location B (like a store or restaurant) where the passenger gets out and does something while the driver waits, then the passenger gets back in the car to continue to dropoff location C. This has been made even worse as the rider apps now permit multi-stop rides, like pickup A --> store B (wait) --> store C (wait again) --> store D (wait more) --> dropoff E. The most common variant is a "round-trip" of the form pickup (house/apartment) --> stop (convenience or liquor store) --> return to house/apartment from pickup.

Just because the app allows you to do as a rider this doesn't mean you should. Drivers are paid much, much more per mile than per minute - so the only way we make any decent money is to be in motion. One memorably egregious home-store-home ride from last week was 6 miles and 39 minutes for total earnings of ~$11 (Lyft doesn't show what they charged the customer, so can't say what they actually paid). The passenger didn't have a mask and went back inside at pickup to look for one - and took ~10 minutes to return. They had left a bag in the backseat or else I would have cancelled the ride and left (a less scrupulous driver may have just left the bag unattended on the ground). The shopping stop, at a dollar store, was another ~15 minutes... I should have left, and in the future I will.

In ~April, an Uber rider booked a multi-stop... first to a storage facility where they spent ~20 minutes inside their unit before returning. I would have left, but there was a gate requiring a keycode to enter the facility, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get out without an exit code. They then had a second stop, at McDonald's on the way back home to unload their stuff from the trunk.

Both of these passengers got 1-star ratings. Immediately upon seeing a ride has stops, I determine a passenger has been lowered to a 4-star rating at best. A multi-stop ride is an automatic 2 or 3 star. The passenger can earn their way back into a 5-star rating on a single-stop by being apologetic about the stop but more importantly quick/prepared - for example a passenger who stopped at Starbucks on the way to work, but had ordered ahead and was back in the car in 45 seconds, earned back their 5-star. I suppose someone could also cash-tip their way back to a 5-star but it's never happened.

I've also heard something in just the past couple weeks that I never heard before - I am not the first/only rideshare Tesla that some riders have experienced! 2 or 3 riders have said they previously had a Model 3 rideshare (so they knew how the doors worked). If you're another (or the only other?) Tesla rideshare driver around Princeton/Trenton NJ and happen to be on TMC and want to compare notes, hit me up.
 
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I've given ~7700 rides across both Uber and Lyft using a 2017 Chevy Bolt. I have 165k on the Bolt and it has been great for rideshare - virtually no operating costs other than electricity ($0.11 / kWh at home) and a set of tires at 80k and 160k.

I agree with most of your conclusions - Uber is definitely the better platform. One of its best features is the ability to see if a ride has stops immediately upon accepting it. I promptly cancel rides with stops unless I'm in the midst of an "x-rides-in-a-row" promotion worth more than $5. Riders very often abuse drivers in the course of stops. The per minute rate here in Jax, FL is under 9 cents.

Some riders have figured this out, so they'll wait to add the stop after the driver is enroute. I regard that as deceptive behavior, so a cancel even though I've already invested time / miles. Some even add the stop after the ride starts - that's a tricky situation since once the ride starts the rider gets to rate the driver. I generally suck it up and then one-star the pax so I never see them again.

If there is the slightest whiff of incivility enroute, such as an impatient text message enroute to pickup - immediate cancel with thanks that the rider was kind enough to telegraph their status as a problem child.

I too mostly avoid late night driving to avoid drunks.

Rider ratings - I rarely accept a Lyft under 4.9 (no exceptions) nor Uber below 4.75 unless I'm very close by. I tighten that up further to 4.8 after 8 PM and 4.9 after 9 PM (easy to remember).

I stopped driving in Feb 2020 as Covid got going, restarted in Sep 2020 as it seemed to be getting under control, then stopped again in June owing to the Delta spike here in Florida - I'm not sure when I'll go back. Battling pax over masks is too much of a PITA.

I'm in the process of getting a 2020 M3 - not sure I'd use that for rideshare, but I didn't realize it might qualify for Lyft Lux rides, though I doubt those requests are common in my area
 
Thanks for the updates, strange how few Uber/ Lyft drivers haven't switched to Tesla's considering the economics.
Question: what are the additional fixed costs of being a driver? do you have to get a new insurance, special permits (I realize that must be state specific)

[OT] Quick notes re C19 protection - there are a couple of things you may want to investigate, preventive measures that essentially lowers your chances of getting infected (since vaccinations are less than 90% effective or something like that).

Basically, anything to keep your immune system functioning at highest level (keto diet, little or no sugars etc ) and
- disinfecting agents for nose/ bronchial system ( halodine swabs as are used at a Columbia U lab, H2O2 nebulization, iodine povidone based swab/ nebulization) ..
- the MATH+ protocols MATH+ Protocol | FLCCC | Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance including Ivermectin, which is now finally available without too much hassle in the US
 
@Waterleo Congrats on your first post - did you join TMC just to comment on this thread? If so I'm honored, but regardless, welcome!
7700's a lot - are you full-time rideshare or is it a secondary income thing? How much range do you get out of a Bolt, and do you ever charge mid-shift? Or asked another way, have you ended your driving day earlier than you were ready because you were low on battery?

My per-minute in NJ on Lyft is ~13 cents (a whopping 18 cents for Lux) and 17 cents on Uber, but stops are painful financially everywhere. Especially since the storage-unit guy I've gotten much more hostile and cancel-prone about rides with stops - and I've seen there are a few annoying strategies that passengers use, like adding the stop after getting in the car as you mention, and also leaving an "anchor" item like a purse or backpack in the car to prevent the driver from just bailing on them when they spend 15 minutes shopping. I'm much more vigilant about checking for anchors now if I do somehow get roped into a stop. That 6 miles / 39 minutes ride I mentioned in my last post used both on me... added the stop after we got en route, and then left an anchor bag in the back seat while in the store.

I have had very little incivility / impatience from passengers overall, particularly en route, but I did have one recently that in retrospect I wish I'd canceled when she called while I was en route to pick up asking how far away I was and said "hurry hurry hurry, I need to catch my train" in an upset/entitled tone. On the way from her house to the train station she asked me why I was "12 minutes late" to pick her up, and I told her I had no idea what she was talking about. She had apparently made an UberX reservation to leave home at 7:30, and I arrived to pick her up at 7:42. I explained that she was my first ride of the day, that I hadn't signed in until 7:35, I was offered her ride immediately upon signing in, accepted it, and drove straight to her. She claimed that "didn't make sense" because she "made a reservation with Uber for 7:30" which apparently left no room for error to catch her train. I told her that rideshare is perhaps not as precise as she is thinking, and for time-sensitive trips she should book earlier. She seemed offended and asked if I was serious, and I said that I was. (She also insisted on overriding the Uber app's directions and ran us into road construction that cost a few critical minutes, and she missed her train.) I think she rated me a 1 (at least, I have a 1 rating on my record and I can't think who else it could have come from).

I have not had any bad mask-policing encounters, but admittedly before the Delta variant emerged I wasn't strict and did let a couple passengers off with a warning and took them short distances with the windows down. If anyone tried to ride without a mask at this point I would cancel on them (but no one has - maybe NJ attitudes toward masking are just different than FL).

The M3 is certainly an entertaining car for ride-sharing, but of course whether to rideshare it or not is up to you (are you keeping the Bolt?). I will suggest that putting it on Lyft Lux (and mine is Black, so it qualifies for Lux Black's comically high rates) and having the app on when you drive around will give you a tax write-off - and if you do pick someone up, the rates would presumably be high enough to make it worth your while. (You would of course have to keep the interior relatively neat and clean, not sure if you have kids or how hard that would be.)
 
@CLK350 At least in in New Jersey, there are very minimal costs or barriers to entry. Just a driver's license, the ability to pass a background check, and the willingness to interact with the public. Some drivers get "gap insurance" from their carrier, which covers the "gap" between the rideshare platform's coverage and your own - but that necessitates letting your carrier know that you're doing rideshare and risk raising your rates, which I didn't do.

I have no idea what the process is for NYC, but my understanding is that is MUCH more difficult and burdensome to get approved to drive there, and that there may actually be some kind of scheduling process for when to drive because of the TLC's involvement. You'd probably want to check a rideshare driver's forum like UberPeople or the Uber Drivers subreddit for some NYC-specific information if you're serious about looking into it.
 
@wise82gyuy - thanks for the addtl info - was looking for ways to make good use of my upcoming MY, which I really wouldn't use much beyond a few outings out of the city ea month and the occasional longer trip .. seems like it would be too much trouble, beyond the annoying customers - well, let's see what I can come up with.
 

vickh

Active Member
Dec 16, 2018
3,281
724
az
Thanks for the updates, strange how few Uber/ Lyft drivers haven't switched to Tesla's considering the economics.
Question: what are the additional fixed costs of being a driver? do you have to get a new insurance, special permits (I realize that must be state specific)

[OT] Quick notes re C19 protection - there are a couple of things you may want to investigate, preventive measures that essentially lowers your chances of getting infected (since vaccinations are less than 90% effective or something like that).

Basically, anything to keep your immune system functioning at highest level (keto diet, little or no sugars etc ) and
- disinfecting agents for nose/ bronchial system ( halodine swabs as are used at a Columbia U lab, H2O2 nebulization, iodine povidone based swab/ nebulization) ..
- the MATH+ protocols MATH+ Protocol | FLCCC | Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance including Ivermectin, which is now finally available without too much hassle in the US

wonder if this still works against OMNICRON
 
@CLK350 At least in in New Jersey, there are very minimal costs or barriers to entry. Just a driver's license, the ability to pass a background check, and the willingness to interact with the public. Some drivers get "gap insurance" from their carrier, which covers the "gap" between the rideshare platform's coverage and your own - but that necessitates letting your carrier know that you're doing rideshare and risk raising your rates, which I didn't do.

I have no idea what the process is for NYC, but my understanding is that is MUCH more difficult and burdensome to get approved to drive there, and that there may actually be some kind of scheduling process for when to drive because of the TLC's involvement. You'd probably want to check a rideshare driver's forum like UberPeople or the Uber Drivers subreddit for some NYC-specific information if you're serious about looking into it.
Thanks for this post Wiseguy. I have often wondered about this and how it all worked........Appreciate you taking the time. My M3 should be coming this month, I have my own business but do have slower months were perhaps this would work. Any insight as to rider availability in other areas.......eg. I live in Wilmington DE, 10 minutes from University of Delaware, doubt I would get many rides in my neck of the woods but I would think a university would increase the chances..........
 
Thanks for this post Wiseguy. I have often wondered about this and how it all worked........Appreciate you taking the time. My M3 should be coming this month, I have my own business but do have slower months were perhaps this would work. Any insight as to rider availability in other areas.......eg. I live in Wilmington DE, 10 minutes from University of Delaware, doubt I would get many rides in my neck of the woods but I would think a university would increase the chances..........
Yeah, I have no visibility into DE rider volume, but in general college towns are a good opportunity if you're willing to do late nights.
 

AMPd

Well-Known Member
Nov 27, 2012
5,074
5,470
Northern California
I tried doing Lyft and Uber back in 2016, it was ok until I had a rider with a big ass dog, couldn’t refuse because of service animal rights.
Plus I got some negative reviews because people didn’t like Tesla.

I then realized I didn’t really like strangers in my car, so I stopped.
I’d rather be bored or drive around for hours on end for no reason than do Uber/Lyft again
 

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