In this video, Sam’s friend Berenice talks to us about driving during rush hour. Serious drivers drive during rush hour. And top earning drivers will drive rush hour too. (Top earning drivers pretty much have to drive at all times – that’s a big part of what makes them top earning drivers)!
But all drivers hate it. Why do we hate it? Because it’s hard to make much money during rush hour. The reasons it’s hard all boil down to traffic and the length of time it takes you to get anywhere.
Why Drivers Hate Rush Hour
The saying, “time is money” is probably never more true than when you’re driving for a living. Whether you’re driving a taxi or a limo or an Uber or Lyft – time is literally money. And lost time is lost money. And drivers make nothing when they don’t have a passenger in the car. Therefore, anything that prevents drivers from having a paying passenger in the car becomes a huge annoyance. Not only is it annoying, it’s costly.
Nothing prevents drivers from having a paying passenger in the car more than traffic that’s stopped dead in its tracks. When a driver gets a call during rush hour, things can get extremely stressful. The passenger may only be a few blocks away, but gridlocked traffic might make those few blocks take up to 20 minutes to travel.
That’s 20 minutes that the driver isn’t making a dime. And being that 20 minutes is a full third of an hour – that will devastate his hourly earnings during these hours! If, by the time the driver arrives at the passenger’s pick – up location, the passenger isn’t out on the street waiting for him, the driver’s stress levels will rise even more! A driver could literally lose up to a half hour just in picking up a passenger during rush hour.
If you add to that the fact that many rush hour passengers aren’t going that far, it just makes things even worse. If it takes a driver, say, 20 minutes total from the time he receives a ping to the time he has his paying passenger in the car – and they’re only going on a 3 mile trip that will no doubt take another 20 minutes, this driver is only going to make about $5 that hour. So, that’s why drivers hate rush hour driving.
What About Rush Hour Tips?
Berenice suggests that while she’s aware that it’s very difficult to make much during rush hour, that passengers may appreciate your extra effort enough to leave a better than usual tip. And that’s certainly possible. Especially, if you’re super nice, calm and taking it all in stride. If you show any frustration or any stress or anxiety – all of that will work against you getting a better tip. But if you make the passenger feel like all is well with the world – even in the middle of the worst traffic imaginable – more than a few will probably appreciate enough to leave you a nice tip.
So, use rush hour as an opportunity to maximize tips by giving the passenger a most pleasant experience during the most unpleasant of times!
Why it’s So Hard to Make Money During Rush Hour
The main drawback to rush hour driving is the fact that although both Uber and Lyft do now pay for time while you’re with a passenger, they literally pay only pennies per minute. Drivers make most of their money on distance, not on time. So, when they’re going a very short distance, but it takes them a long time to get there, they’re not going to make anything. After car expenses, their earnings can be in the negative numbers.
Here’s a good example. Berenice loves driving in Minneapolis because the traffic is so much better than in LA. So, let’s look at what Uber pays drivers in Minneapolis – to get a good idea why it’s so hard to make anything when your car is barely moving.
Uber pays drivers just $0.12 per minute (net to the driver). This comes out to just $7.2 an hour – so it’s not much. Drivers in Minneapolis also get paid $0.78 per mile (net to the driver). So, on a 3-mile, 20-minute trip the drive would get about $6.71 (including their 75% share of the $2.60 booking fee).
If it took the driver, say, 15 minutes from the time he got the ping until the time the passenger was in the car, this means he made $6.71 in 35 minutes which would be equivalent to $11.50 an hour – if he could get another passenger immediately. However, if it takes another 15 to 20 minutes for him to get another passenger in the car – his hour will be mostly used up. And he would have made about $7.50 that hour.
That’s why drivers tend to shy away from doing much rush hour driving.
Why Do Top Earning Drivers Do Rush Hour?
If you take the above example – our driver who made $7.50 an hour driving during rush hour and multiply that by three hours of rush hour – you come up with $22.50 total. So, while our top earning driver didn’t earn much money driving during those three rush hours – he will make more per hour driving other hours. But, this is still $22.50 that he wouldn’t have had if he had stayed home.
So, to answer the question as to whether or not you should drive during rush hour – I think the best answer is – it depends on if you want to be a top earner or not. And you may not want to be. It may require too much from you to do what you have to do to land in the top earner category. And that’s perfectly fine. Most people are doing this to earn a little extra money on the side. They’re not doing it to win some award for being at the top of some category! You don’t have to be a top earner to still make some good extra income from driving.
But, if you do want to be a top earner – you will drive rush hour more than other drivers. If you earn $7.50 an hour during rush hour you ma earn up to $20 an hour outside of rush hour. If you work five non-rush hours and earn $100, then this extra $22.50 is a 22.5% boost in your earnings! It will go a long ways in paying for the commissions you had to pay to Uber and Lyft for your other trips.
By Not Driving Rush Hour – You Could Lose a Lot of Opportunities
There’s also the matter of lost opportunities if you don’t drive rush hour. Sure, you may only make $7.50 an hour – but that’s a worst case scenario. You could make that for two hours and then in the third rush hour, you get a long trip and make $30 off that one trip. Suddenly your $22.50 rush hour earnings turns into $45! And now your $100 day has become a $145 day… a very nice increase indeed!
Interviewer: All right, Berenice, I just made a video on why I don’t usually drive [during] rush hour. And you’re the rush hour girl. Sell me on this.
Berenice: Well, it’s busy. I mean, maybe people don’t like to go ahead and drive [during] rush hour because it’s a lot of stop-and-go. But time that someone is in your car, is time that you are getting paid.
And certainly, if you go ahead and provide a customer service atmosphere and make people feel like you’re going above and beyond, those tips are really going to make up for maybe what people would say be short rides or rides that are not prime time.
I’m from Los Angeles and the traffic here is nothing compared to L.A. so I really enjoy driving in the Twin Cities. People around rush hour, they’re either going to work or getting off of work or school. And it’s kind of nice to be the ride that’s in between or winding down from their day.
I try to create an atmosphere of peace in my car. I have a Lyft driving mellow playlist on Spotify, and I really try to go above and beyond by creating that atmosphere.
I think that the tips that I get because of that really make up for maybe what some people would say are rides that are not as much money such as prime time rides.
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