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Even in the gig economy, learning about the companies you drive for before you apply is always a smart move. When it comes to ridesharing, understanding the market can help you determine whether Uber has ample opportunities for you or if you should look elsewhere to earn. In this article, we’ll dive into one major question: How many Uber drivers are there?
Despite going public in 2019, Uber keeps many of its driver stats undisclosed. The ridesharing company, like many of its competitors, focuses on the big numbers — but total sign-ups alone don’t tell the full story.
In this article, we’ll explain how many Uber drivers there are as well as the rideshare app’s global market share.
- How Many Uber Drivers Are There?
- Uber Driver Churn
- Uber Market Share
- Uber Driver vs. Lyft Driver Count
- Ridester’s Take
- Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Uber Drivers Are There?
Uber has a massive community of 3.9 million drivers around the world as of December 2018. This number includes all approved drivers on the Uber Driver app, regardless of whether their primary earnings come from ridesharing or food delivery.
This number may seem large, but keep in mind Uber has never disclosed how many drivers are active on the Uber Driver app each month. This means the number of drivers sharing the road with you likely isn’t quite as dramatic.
Another Uber statistic to keep in mind is the company’s ridesharing services are available in over 700 cities around the globe. If divided equally, the average is more than 5,500 drivers per market, which isn’t much competition.
Even if you’re driving in a major metro area, where there’s bound to be more drivers, the amount of riders is typically far higher as well.
Prospective Uber drivers outside of the United States should also be happy to know much of the company’s driver base (around 750,000 drivers) primarily centers in the U.S. This means if you’re signing up internationally, there’s a good chance you’ll face less competition.
Uber Driver Churn
When asking “How many Uber drivers are there?” we also need to look at driver churn.
To start, we’ll look at Uber’s business model. The rideshare company relies on drivers who are independent contractors (not traditional employees). This means drivers work on their own schedules and can hop online as often — or as rarely — as they wish.
Because companies are not required to provide any benefits to independent contractors, drivers cover common expenses like gas, car maintenance, health insurance, and self-employment taxes. These expenses can be significant compared to Uber earnings, especially when driving for an economy service like UberX or UberPool. That means the gig often draws in drivers who seek supplemental income or are between jobs.
The nature of the Uber driver gig makes it extremely susceptible to driver churn, which means they constantly need to recruit drivers. Uber’s driver base depends on new sign-ups — hence why referral bonuses are often available — so there’s a good chance you’ll have ample driving opportunities once you’re accepted.
Uber Market Share
So, how likely is it that potential customers will request an Uber ride or delivery? There’s a pretty good chance if you look at the company’s typical market share.
According to Statista, Uber has stood strong with an approximate 70% share of the ridesharing industry since at least 2017. The only exception was in May 2020, when Lyft took the lead. This was due to massive drops in ridesharing in the midst of COVID-19, so the drastic change is not likely representative of Uber’s general success. After all, Statista notes that Uber’s global revenue and ridership is still on the rise.
Globally, Uber holds a majority market share in all of its major regions, like Europe, Latin America, and Australia-New Zealand. Even in India, the second-most populous country in the world, Uber estimates it has an impressive majority market share.
Uber Eats is also a huge contender in its respective industry with the third-highest market share in the U.S. Just above Uber Eats is Grubhub, which holds just a 1% higher market share and a far slower growth rate. It’s likely that Uber Eats will one day become the second most preferred U.S. food delivery brand.
All of this shows Uber is a preferred brand, so despite the millions of full-time and part-time drivers who have been approved on the Uber Driver platform, there are many opportunities for you to earn on the mobile app. After all, as of December 2018, there were over 91 million active Uber users every month. This is more than 20 times the number of total drivers.
Uber Driver vs. Lyft Driver Count
Lyft currently has more than 1.4 million drivers in the United States and Toronto.
Based on this count, Lyft likely has more drivers in the United States than Uber — which, again, has 750,000 U.S. drivers. This is because it’s unlikely that Lyft has 650,000 drivers in one city (Toronto) alone.
That said, Uber actually might be a better opportunity for you in most shared U.S. markets. Combined with its significantly higher market share, Uber’s smaller driver base means more opportunities to get back-to-back requests and earn with surge, since demand is more likely to exceed supply by a greater amount.
Of course, the total amount of Lyft and Uber drivers, when combined, is likely much lower in the markets the rideshare companies share. Many drivers drive for both Uber and Lyft to maximize their earnings, so there may not actually be more than 2 million rideshare drivers to compete with in the U.S. and Toronto.
Dara Khosrowshahi, in a live stream presentation to drivers last week let a figure slip out that is significant because of who it came from. But insignificant because it didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know!
Khosrowshahi told drivers in the audience and online that Uber has “millions of people” driving every single week around the world!
At the 12:30 mark he said that Uber has, “Millions of people around the world drive with Uber every single week.”
Okay, so that doesn’t really tell us much! We all assumed it was a few million. In fact, most of the guestimates you’ll find online estimate that there are 1-1.5 million drivers in the U.S. alone. Many of these only apply to drive to unlock a sign up bonus, meet the requirements to get paid out, then stop driving.
But that wasn’t the last word during the drivers’ live stream presentation! There was another speaker, who got a little more specific. His name is Yuhki Yamashita and he’s the Group Product Manager at Uber.
Yamashita started his presentation with a look at the future of the driver experience. And to kick things off, he began with a number. A very big number!
The number was 8.5 million. This is, as he said, about the same number of hours that you have in a thousand years. And that’s true – although it’s actually 970 years. But close enough for our purposes!
8.5 million is the total number of hours Uber drivers around the world spend on the road – each day! Yamashita’s point was that it’s amazing to think that every single day, the equivalent of 1,000 years of time is spent by Uber drivers driving. And that is amazing. But, it also gives us a clue as to how many Uber drivers there might be.
Academic studies, private surveys and other methods of extracting this information, have shown that Uber drivers average about 4 hours of driving a day on the days they drive. So, if we have 8.5 million driving hours on the road each day, and drivers average around 4 hours a day, that would put us at a little over 2 million drivers.
In fact, Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, put the figure at exactly 2 million in the middle of 2017. In a blog post, he said:
In a highly competitive market it is easy to become obsessed with growth, instead of taking the time to ensure you’re on the right path. Now is that time… to pause for a moment and think about what really matters here: providing 65 million riders transportation when they need it, giving 2 million drivers flexible work options, and creating a company culture we are proud of.
So, that looks like a pretty solid answer to how many drivers Uber has – at least at the halfway point of 2017.
Does Uber Have Too Many Drivers?
It would appear so. If you take Yamashita’s 8.5 million hours of driving a day and combine it with Camp’s statement that there are 2 million drivers, it would seem, based on known averages, that what Camp meant is that there are 2 million drivers on the road each day.
Camp also said this in that same blog post:
Uber has become a global service providing roughly 15 million rides per day across 500 cities, and international markets are growing as fast as ever.
So, if Uber is completing 15 million rides per day (worldwide) with 2 million drivers, that means there are 7.5 passengers per driver – on average. And that would explain why so many drivers sit idle for so many minutes in between trips.
Obviously, a lot of drivers, especially in large cities, know the times and places to be where they can stay busier than that. But on average, there is a lot more wait time for next trips than there should be.
The numbers Uber has given us, combined with known averages work out really well:
- 2 million drivers per day – who drive on average for 4 hours;
- there are 15 million rides each day;
- the average driver can do about 2 trips per hour;
It works out just about right. If the average driver works 4 hours per day and does about 2 trips per hour – that works out to about 7.5 trips per driver per day.
Based on the fact that these numbers work out with known averages, we believe there are about 2 million drivers worldwide and probably about half of those are in the U.S.
Some have estimated it’s closer to 3 million drivers. However, they base that estimate on the growth in the number of drivers that they assume has occurred since June 2017 when Camp let it be known that there are 2 million drivers.
But we don’t believe the growth rate in the number of drivers in the last 9-10 months has been as high as it was in the past. We believe the growth rate has slowed considerably. And with Uber continuing to lose about half its drivers every year, we think that means there has probably been little net increase in the number of drivers since last June.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you understand Uber’s current driver statistics and how they affect you, read these FAQs to learn more about driving with Uber:
Does Uber set limits for how many Uber drivers they accept?
While there’s no limit to how many rideshare drivers can be on the platform, the company does set local limits based on demand for specific services. For example, if Uber Black demand is low in San Francisco, the market may temporarily stop accepting new applicants for the service.
Luckily, because demand is always changing, local caps are always changing too. Even if you can’t currently apply to drive your desired ride type now, you may be able to later.
One exception to this is in New York City. NYC regulations have forced rideshare companies (not just Uber) to limit the number of new drivers and the number of drivers on the road based on current demand.
Will the number of drivers on the road always affect my earnings?
Unfortunately, the number of Uber drivers on the road will always affect how much you earn. When there are too many drivers in the same area at once, it will likely take a while for you to receive requests.
On the flip side, if demand is much higher than supply — which often happens during rush hour, at events, and during certain holidays — you’ll end up earning far more per trip thanks to surge pricing. As long as you pay attention to the heat map on the homepage of your app, you’ll know where surge is highest so you can make significantly more than minimum wage.
How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the number of drivers on the road?
While ridesharing has clearly taken a hit due to COVID-19, many Uber drivers are still active on the Uber Driver app. This is thanks to the fact that Uber launched new delivery services like Uber Connect and Uber Direct to help its drivers continue to make an income by catering to consumer needs. Plus, Uber Eats is still faring well, like many food and grocery delivery apps, thanks to the rise in people staying at home.
Get to Know Your Potential Gig
Millions of drivers may use the Uber Driver app every single month, but there are more than 20 times more consumers on the Uber app than drivers. Earning opportunities are plentiful on the ridesharing platform. Even if you’re in driver-saturated cities like Los Angeles or Miami, the demand for ridesharing services is likely high enough for you to make a decent living on the platform.
When you’re ready to drive with Uber, head to our sign-up guide to learn more about the gig and the application process.
Jonathan Cousar began driving for Uber in 2013 when the ride-hail company first began operations in New York City. He has booked more than 7,000 trips. In 2014 he created Uber Driver Diaries, which was the first blog by an Uber driver describing the highs and lows of driving as well as offering tips and tricks and information on the industry as a whole. In 2016 Ridester acquired the site, and Jonathan began writing full-time about the rideshare industry and the gig economy. He has also done extensive research into driver issues related to pay and working conditions.