The Complete Guide To Driving For Uber And Lyft in Boston

In 2011, Uber arrived in Boston with great fanfare!  It took off immediately. Lyft opened operations in Boston two years later in 2013.  Boston was Lyft’s sixth city and it was its first on the east coast

In 2016 Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law Massachusetts’ first statewide regulations on ride sharing services.

In 2017, Uber and Lyft completed nearly 35 million trips or an average of about 96,000 trips per day.  Boston itself accounted for more than half of the rides completed in the entire state of Massachusetts.  The Boston Globe reports that in 2017 there were on average, 67 Uber and Lyft trips taking place every single minute of the day!

However, not everyone is happy about it according to the Globe.  Charlestown resident, Noel Atamian, a resident and real estate professional told the Globe that he’s “frustrated with the number of ride hailing drivers double parking on Boston roads.”  “You see all these people in a car, driving around and parking wherever in an unorganized, random say”, he said.  “They’re truly clogging the streets.”

State Rideshare Regulations

Boston drivers are more strictly regulated by the state of Massachusetts than most drivers are elsewhere in the country.  In 2016, the governor signed into law Massachusetts’ first statewide regulations on ride sharing services.  After the law was signed everyone hailed it as a step in the right direction, including Uber, Lyft and the Boston taxi industry!

The law puts some pretty strict requirements on drivers though.  It requires them to purchase more expensive commercial insurance.  That’s a good thing as it protects both drivers and passengers.  But it’s certainly more expensive for drivers.  Uber and Lyft drivers also pay higher tolls than regular drivers.  That’s because Massachusetts charges higher tolls when people are driving for commercial purposes.

The law also set up a two-tiered background check system.  One tier is completed by the company, Uber or Lyft and the other is completed by the state Department of Public Utilities.  Drivers also have to get their vehicles inspected through a mechanism determined by state and law enforcement officials.

Some drivers have complained that the state’s background check is too onerous.  Private companies in Massachusetts are not allowed to conduct background checks that go back more than seven years into a worker’s background.  But the state is not hampered by that restriction.  They can look at somebody’s entire life record.  Drivers have been turned down because they had a misdemeanor conviction more than 25 years ago.  Uber and Lyft say this is unfair to people who have clearly demonstrated for the last 25 years that they are able to live as law abiding citizens.

There have also been reports from some drivers that they were turned down because they had been involved in minor car accidents many years ago.

Uber and Lyft’s Boston Rates

Uber’s Rates for Boston: uberX uberXL uberBLACK uberSUV
Base Fare $2.10 $3.50 $7.00 $14.00
Booking Fee $1.85 $2.10
Minimum Fare $6.85 $8.10 $15.00 $25.00
per Minute $0.21 $0.35 $0.45 $0.50
per Mile $1.35 $2.50 $4.00 $4.35
Lyft’s Rates for Boston: Lyft Plus Lux SUV
Base Fare $2.10 $3.50 $7.00 $14.00
Minimum Fare $5.00 $6.00 $15.00 $25.00
Service Fee $1.85 $2.10 $1.35 $1.35
per Minute $0.21 $0.35 $0.45 $0.50
per Mile $1.35 $2.50 $4.00 $4.35

What to Watch Out for While Driving in Boston

The thing drivers need to know about Boston is that it is among other things – a college town.  It’s also a business center.  But colleges really rule the day.  And not just a regular college town, but an Ivy League college town.  It’s the home of Harvard.  Well, nearby Cambridge is technically the home of Harvard, but it’s well within the Boston area.  The presence of Harvard and other top schools such as Boston University, Brandeis, Cambridge College, MIT, Tufts and the University of Massachusetts Boston, make it a real intellectual center.

Higher education and intellectual pursuits form the backbone of Boston’s character and Uber and Lyft drivers need to know that and understand it because it forms the character of the city and changes the way you’ll drive.

When school lets out – things can get pretty slow for drivers.  So as a driver, you’ll want to closely follow what’s going on with the colleges and universities.

This is a map of the major schools in and around Boston:

Best Areas to Drive in Boston

First, it should be noted that Boston is the best area to drive in all of Massachusetts.  More than half the Uber and Lyft trips driven in the whole state originate in Boston.  If you stray too far away from Boston and find yourself sitting idle most of the time – that’s why.  Head back to Boston as soon as you can!

Coppersmith’s is the trendiest new destination in Boston according to Lyft.  The most visited bar is Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall.  And Legal Harborside is the most visited restaurant.  South Boston and the water front are hot areas at night and on weekends.

Night Driving

In most cities, driving late at night is a great time to make more money fast.  That’s because in most cities, late night driving means almost no traffic.  But, not so in Boston.

Boston has long had a reputation for a city that just can’t seem to get it right when it comes to road construction and maintenance.  They’re known for causing horrendous delays in construction areas.

Night construction is a big problem around Boston.  Traffic at 2:00 in the morning can sometimes be worse than a Friday afternoon at rush hour.  When they’re doing highway construction, they don’t just close a single lane or two and leave the rest of it open – no!  That would make too much sense!  In Boston, they’ll close the entire highway – including all lanes going in one direction!

Just recently I-90 East was shut down entirely in the east bound direction past Copley.  All traffic on this major route was detoured into Boston and all the way to the Seaport area!  For non Bostonians, what that translates into is a nightmare of traffic going through the very center of the city in the middle of the night.

For Uber and Lyft drivers, this means driving in and around Boston late at night will not always bring the same benefits late night driving brings to drivers in other cities around the country.  Usually drivers can make some pretty fast money late at night because the traffic is very light and they can get around very quickly.  But not so in Boston.  You can get caught up in one of these major tie ups and it can ruin your night.

However, that doesn’t mean nights aren’t super busy for Uber and Lyft in Boston.  Uber does nearly 100,000 trips each Friday and Saturday night between 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM.  Requests more than double near popular streets like Park Street.

Uber & Lyft in the Boston Suburbs

Business in Boston’s suburbs has skyrocketed dramatically since Uber first entered the Boston market in 2011.  Areas like Mission Hill, Mattapan, Roxbury and Dorchester – which have been traditionally under served by taxis – have increased many times over since Uber first began service there.  Uber did nearly 1 million trips a year in those areas between 2013 and 2015.