The Complete Guide To Driving For Uber And Lyft in Chicago

Uber’s launched its services in Chicago in September 2011.  At the time of the launch, Uber’s then-CEO, Travis Kalanick said, “Chicago has Uber in its blood”.  He claimed at the time, that Chicago has what he called all the “Uber accelerants” that dramatically boost Uber’s growth.

The “accelerants” he mentioned were:

  • Chicago’s “electric restaurant and nightlife scene”;
  • “Big-experience”, high-end dining;
  • Chicago’s weather – he claimed that Chicago has an ample supply of bad weather – by which he meant weather you don’t want to stand outside in;
  • Sports – Chicago is a premiere sports city with die-hard fans that show up at every event

With so many factors like this, there’s bound to be demand for rides. As a driver, what do you need to know to drive for Uber or Lyft in Chicago? Keep reading, because below we’ll cover it all.


Chicago’s Lyft and Uber Rates

Before driving, the first thing to know is what Chicago rates are for passengers. This will give you a basic idea of the type of income you can expect for each ride.

*Please note – the rates in the table below were pulled on 5/25/2018, and are subject to change at any time. The table below is to give you a general baseline for what you might make when driving.

Uber’s Rates for Chicago:                                                uberX uberXL uberBLACK uberSUV
Base Fare $1.79 $3.00 $7.00 $14.00
Booking Fee $1.85 $2.15 $0.00 $0.00
Minimum Fare $4.85 $9.15 $15.00 $25.00
per Minute $0.21 $0.35 $0.40 $0.55
per Mile $1.00 $1.80 $3.55 $4.10
Lyft’s Rates for Chicago Lyft Plus Lux SUV
Base Fare $1.79 $3.00 $7.00 $14.00
Minimum Fare $3.00 $7.00 $15.00 $25.00
Service Fee $1.85 $2.15 $1.40 $1.40
per Minute $0.21 $0.35 $0.40 $0.55
per Mile $1.00 $1.80 $3.55 $4.10

Chicago Hot Spots

New drivers always want to know where the hot spots are.  The real question, though, is where are the best places to start from?  Because wherever you start from – you’re not going to be there long.

One trip can take you to a totally different area – fast!  And when it comes to figuring out the best places to start from – it all depends on when you’re starting!  If you’re starting early in the mornings, then you want to be in the suburbs to catch airport trips.

Some well-known Chicagoland locations that have high demand are:

  • Northside
  • Humboldt Park
  • Bucktown
  • The Loop – which is Chicago’s central business district or downtown
  • South Loop
  • West Loop by Fulton Market

In the early mornings, starting near the Loop is a good idea.  That’s where you’re likely to get an airport trip – to either airport – O’Hare or Midway.

Some of the hot spots in Chicago for Uber and Lyft driving are:

  • Navy Pier – was the most visited tourist destination in Chicago;
  • Pequod’s Pizza – most visited restaurant by Lyft passengers;
  • Hopsmith Tavern – most visited bar
  • Wrigley Field – most visited event space
  • O’Hare – most visited airport

This humble little restaurant was the most most popular restaurant destination in Chicago for Lyft passengers in 2017!  Pequod’s Pizza.


Chicago Area Airports

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is the fourth busiest airport – in the world!  So, it must be factored into any driver’s strategic calculations.

One thing new drivers may want to consider is getting a vehicle that qualifies for XL.  Since XL rates are approximately 1.8x higher than uber X rates, there is a good chance to increase income by increasing vehicle size.

Now that Uber has been around for several years and people are generally aware of it – they are also now aware that when traveling to and from airports, if they have a lot of baggage, they need to order an XL.  So, XL business at the airports is rather brisk and XL drivers don’t have to wait too long for a ping.  An XL driver can make good money at Chicago’s airports.

Chicago also has a second major airport – Midway.  Drivers shouldn’t overlook this important airport as they come up with their driving strategy.

Midway is located eight miles from the Loop on the Southwest Side of Chicago.  O’Hare is located on the far Northwest Side of Chicago.  O’Hare is about twice as far from downtown Chicago as Midway is.  So, be sure to factor that into your strategic planning.


Chicago’s Regulations for Uber and Lyft Drivers

In 2014 the first regulations were passed in Chicago to govern the rideshare industry.  In 2016 these rules were updated and now drivers must go through the following hoops in order to drive for Uber and Lyft:

  • acquire a special chauffer’s license, which they can do by completing an online course. This license must be renewed annually;
  • their cars must be less than six years old – unless they submit to semi-annual vehicle testing;
  • drivers must display a sign to let passengers know they can call 311 to report complaints;
  • drivers must submit to drug testing anytime a passenger files a complaint against the driver alleging they are on drugs or under the influence of alcohol;
  • the rideshare companies have to pay a fee of 40 cents for every trip to the city of Chicago;
  • the rideshare companies have to pay a fee of $5.40 every pick ups and drop offs from the city’s airports, McCormick Place and Navy Pier.

The city of Chicago also requires the following documents be in all drivers’ vehicles at all times when picking up or dropping off from the city’s airports, McCormick Place and Navy Pier:

  • Your Vehicle Emblem/TNP Chauffeur License on the driver side dashboard
  • The Uber emblem on the passenger side of your front windshield
  • Chicago TNP Trade Dress in the passenger side of your rear windshield
  • Uber Vehicle Inspection (in glove box)
  • Uber ID (in app)
  • Rasier Insurance (waybill)

In addition to these requirements, the city of Chicago also requires:

  • Transportation Network Provider (TNP) drivers must secure a TNP Chauffeur License through his or her affiliated TNP Company.
  • Only licensed TNP Companies may apply for and secure TNP Chauffeur Licenses for affiliated drivers
  • through the City of Chicago online TNP Chauffeur Licensing service at www.cityofchicago.org/bacp.
  • A TNP affiliated driver must contact his or her affiliated TNP company to obtain a TNP Chauffeur License.
  • TNP Chauffeur must be a minimum of 21 years old.
  • TNP Chauffeur must have a valid permanent driver’s license issued by a state, district or territory of the United
  • States and a TNP-issued photo identification card in his or her possession.
  • TNP Chauffeurs must carry proof of insurance coverage in his or her possession.
  • TNP Chauffeurs may only secure passengers through the TNP digital platform and may not solicit passengers.
  • TNP Chauffeurs may not accept passengers by street hail or in taxicab stands.
  • TNP Chauffeurs may not accept cash payment for TNP fares. TNP fare payments must be processed only through
  • the TNP platform.
  • TNP Chauffeurs must display in or on the TNP vehicle (1) distinctive TNP Company signage or trade dress, (2)
  • required City of Chicago issued registration emblem with TNP chauffeur license and (3) if applicable, distinctive
  • signage to pick up at the airports, McCormick Place and Navy Pier. TNP vehicles may not resemble taxicabs.
  • TNP Chauffeurs are subject to an annual City of Chicago outstanding debt assessment.
  • TNP Companies must ensure payment of the City’s Ground Transportation Tax for all affiliated vehicles.
  • TNP Vehicles must meet state vehicle registration requirements.