The Best Hours to Drive for Uber [And How to Plan Your Day]

A rideshare driver on a busy street

Sitting in the car, waiting for a trip request is one of the worst ways a rideshare driver can spend the day.

It’s boring, uncomfortable and unprofitable.

Driving around or sitting in parking lots waiting for ride requests is a waste of gas, time and money. But we still see Uber and Lyft drivers do it all the time.

We understand. If you are a new driver, you are probably eager to get behind the wheel and make some money.

But instead of focusing on driving as many hours as possible, drivers should focus on driving when it is most profitable.

By isolating these periods throughout the day, drivers can increase their earnings. If these hours are profitable, drivers may even be able to cut the number of hours they need to drive to reach their paycheck goals.

That brings us to the main question: how do you find and cherry pick the best hours to drive?

Read on as we reveal the top hacks you can use to discover the answer to this question in your rideshare business.

Learn the Pace of Your City

Every city, and even neighborhood, has a different ebb and flow. There are times when people are out and about. And there are times when it seems like a ghost town.

If you want to maximize your driving hours, you need to know what times it is busy in specific areas in your city.

The best way you can learn this is through experience. The more you drive for Uber or Lyft, the more you will understand when and where people want rides.

Of course, you can also use some common sense.

In big cities with a large concentration of office workers and business people (think places with skyscrapers like New York City or Chicago), it will always be busy during the morning and afternoon commutes. So consider driving during those hours. The morning rush is typically busiest from 7am – 10am. The even commute is busy from 4pm until 6pm.

In areas with a lot of nightlife, it would make zero sense to dry at 7am in the morning. In parts of town with a lot of bars and clubs, drive during the night. Peak times for taking people to the bars and clubs starts around 7pm or 8pm and driving until 2am is always going to be profitable, especially on Saturday and Sunday nights. Staying out this late on a Monday or Tuesday wouldn’t make any sense, because the number of people out drinking is much less.

It is also smart to learn about major events and reoccurring events in your city.

An example of a reoccurring event would be a Saturday afternoon football game in a college town. In college towns across the country, students and adults like to party on game days during the fall. This means driving all day Saturday is likely to be very popular in these types of towns. The same can be said for Sundays in areas with professional football teams.

Other reoccurring events to look out for are weekly concert series. A ton of cities have areas that feature free music throughout the summer. Keep your ears and eyes open for these events, because they could be your most profitable times of the week!

And obviously, it would be stupid to ignore the massive events. Target festivities include big-name concerts, annual festivals, and any other activity that draws in a large number of people.

You can schedule your work week around the time frames when those areas are the busiest.

Ask Your Riders

Another way to figure out where the most active places are in your town are is to ask your riders. Say something like, “Anything fun going on today?” or “Where do people hang out around here?” to bring up the subject.

Don’t ask too many prying questions; you don’t want to come across as nosy or creepy to passengers.

Remember, the idea is to gain insight into when as well as why people opt to use their preferred rideshare service.

If done without seeming too nosy, drivers can gain intel on the most popular areas in their city.

For example, a new nightclub opening might attract a lot of people who are ready to party. As a result, many will opt to use a rideshare service instead of driving.

Given enough time, you may be able to get a decent amount of legitimate sources. After piecing this all together, drivers should be able to identify where the popular locations are and when they should drive by them.

Pay Attention to Surge Prices

Now that we have covered the best ways to get in-tune with your city’s heartbeat let’s review how to maximize the amount of money you can earn while driving near busy locations. One of the fastest ways to bump up your pay is via surge pricing.

As you are likely aware, surge pricing is a multiplier that boosts the fare you would usually receive for a ride. It goes into effect when there is a high demand for ride request and a low supply of drivers.

When this feature is active, take the time to jot down when it is. In most locations, surge pricing happens during the same time frames each week.

Knowing when surge pricing is going to go live is only the first step. The next part is remembering which areas experience it. This may be a bit trickier than noting the time, considering surge is displayed in many shades on a map.

If you can mark the surge location on a physical map you have, as well as the multiplier amounts, by all means, do so.

Otherwise, try to write down street names you see that are within the designated areas. Although it may be tempting to only record the areas with the highest multiplier, we recommend taking note of as many as possible. After all, even if 1.2x is lower than a 1.5x multiplier, it still beats out the price of a standard fare.

Pinning down this valuable information will help you pick up on where to be at before surge goes into effect.

Once you get good at predicting when surge pricing is going to occur, you can plan for it. By doing so, you can ensure that you always come prepared, with snacks, bottled water, and other essentials. This is a great way to boost your morale, as well as your passengers when you are stuck waiting in a traffic jam.

There are some major pitfalls to be aware of in regards to surge. The number one trap driver’s fall into is chasing surge. When we talk about “chasing surge” we are referring to the practice of turning down a local ride request in favor or “chasing” a surge fare that is halfway across town.

It can be tempting to go after that multiplier. But after you factor in the time and distance required to get across town, the multiplier might not be worth it after all.

A good rule of thumb drivers can use to avoid this alluring trap is to determine how long it will take to get to the surge area. If you are not able to get to the designated area within a couple of minutes, don’t bother.

Instead, focus on picking up the rides that are nearby. It pays to remember that if everyone is heading toward the surge area, those that stay behind will be able to pick up a lot of the passengers located in the outskirts.

Identify Your Preferred Hours

I will start by saying that there is no right answer here. Everyone likes different things. That said, to avoid burnout, it’s important to identify your preferred hours and the types of rides you like completing.

For example, if there is an airport in your area, you might enjoy those red-eye airport runs.

Or you may find drunk people to be hilarious and you like working in the late evenings. This humor may drive you to pick up bar hoppers on Saturday night so that they can live it up. If this sounds like you, be sure to bring a bucket along in the trunk.

Having a solid grasp on when you prefer to work is pretty significant in the rideshare business. Not everyone enjoys trying to get around town when rush hour traffic is going on. Of course, there are drivers out there that live for the challenge of navigating congested areas. If you are this type of driver, chances are rush hour will always be your favorite time to drive.

It’s important for Uber drivers to discover when they enjoy driving and when they would prefer not to. Once you know for sure which time of day or night if when you like to drive the most, you can maximize that.

Plan Your Downtime

Now that you know the most profitable times to drive, along with the times you like to drive, it’s time to plan your downtime. Because knowing when you are not going to drive is just as important as knowing when you are going to drive.

A lot of full-time rideshare drivers get over ambitious and try to spend every waking hour behind the wheel. This is bad because a proper sleep schedule and some downtime are important for your safety. It also helps avoid burnout.

We suggest sleeping when passenger requests are hard to come by. In most areas, this means the hours between bar close and the morning commute (3am – 6am). Along with the hours between the morning and evening commutes (10am – 4pm).

If you take those hours off, you will have 9 total hours off the clock. This would not be sustainable for most people, so we suggest skipping either the early morning or evening commute times. This should give you a healthy work/life balance while making good money

As the boss of your rideshare business, there are a bunch of elements that need to be taken into consideration. When and where to work is a major one.

Researching your city and locating the popular areas is a good start.

Start by getting familiar with your city by driving around town and focusing on what you see. Take note of any area where a lot of people are and at what time. While doing this, try to venture out toward areas you do not regularly visit. By doing so, you may be able to discover new popular and potentially profitable locations.

When you do find an area that meets this description, jot that information down.

Be sure to note the time as well. Then, when you are on duty, try to return to those areas to confirm whether the location is active all the time.

During the periods where riders are in your vehicle, take the time to ask them when they use rideshare the most. Do your best to ask this question in a non-creepy way. Uber passengers can provide you with very beneficial information in regards to why other people may be using the rideshare service in the future.

Another way to go about configuring your work schedule is via surge pricing. When this feature goes live, drivers can take note of when and where the multiplier is in effect, then use that info to be on location for the next surge. There are a couple of traps associated with chasing surge, some of which can be dangerous.

Once you learn more about your driving preferences, how often you want to drive, and the vibe of your area, it is easy to create a work schedule even if you live in a small town.

Make sure that schedule accounts for downtime. Remember at the beginning where we talked about drivers waiting around for ride requests? Those should be your hours off.

Save your energy for when there is actually money to be made.

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