When is the best time and place to drive in your city? If you’re just starting out, you may not know when is the most lucrative time to drive. Use these strategies to earn more while driving for Uber and Lyft!
Buckle has partnered with Harry Campbell, founder of TheRideshareGuy.com, to provide our Members with the very best tips, tricks, and news to help maximize their income as a rideshare and delivery driver.
Every city, small or large, presents its challenges to rideshare drivers. Every city offers different demand patterns, but ultimately, people use Uber/Lyft for their personal transportation needs—to and from airports, going out to bars on weekends or special events, going to work or school, etc.
Even if you don’t live in a major city, like Los Angeles, every city’s driver requests follow a similar pattern. Below, I’ll share a broad overview of the best times and places to drive in your city. Just remember, the best way to be successful as a rideshare driver is to know your city really well, so take my recommendations and then make sure to make them your own!
Study Surge Patterns in Your City: Peak Demand
When I first started driving, I studied the surge patterns in my city as well as when and where to position myself because certain parts of the city generate more lucrative rides at certain times of the day. Both Uber and Lyft are available 24/7, and there are no set working hours or schedules, so drive when it works best for you!
Identifying the rider's needs and attitudes and adapting yourself to them should be one of your main goals. Knowing when is the best time to drive for Uber or Lyft, is an important way to be one step ahead of other rideshare drivers.
There is a lot of information out there, but nothing can replace trial and error. Even the apps you use to receive requests guide you when and where to drive. Whether you want to use this data to prioritize the peak times to get more rides, or you want to avoid quieter hours on the roads, you are at the right place.
In the chart below, I show the best times to drive Uber and Lyft in general. These are the peak demand times in most major cities. You may have to adapt your personal schedule to make the most out of this gig.
I have identified several times and places that are almost guaranteed to lead to higher fares for you as a driver. However, it’s impossible to generalize for all cities and market conditions, so you should always talk to other drivers in your city to get advice on the best driving times and places.
Scope Out Large Events
Popular concerts, or sporting events, will attract many attendees. Whenever these events come up, there are likely to be many people ordering rides to and from the venue.
A smart time to work is before the event starts and immediately after it ends. The trick is to know your city well enough to not get caught in traffic jams.
You should be aware of any special sporting events happening in your city, such as the Super Bowl that recently took place in Los Angeles.
You don’t have to limit yourself to holidays and sporting events. Depending on your area, there are sure to be lots of other city-specific events that could produce higher hourly earnings.
Maybe your city has some sort of special parade to mark a local celebration. Check out the website for the convention center. Is there a big conference taking place? Being around when that conference lets out for the day could help you get lots of rides from people who are ready to go out to dinner or back to their hotel.
Consider Driving During Rush Hours
Morning and afternoon rush hours are times that most new drivers overlook because they can’t get themselves out of bed at the crack of dawn, but they can be worth your time for a couple of reasons.
The first is that demand is higher during these times as people commute into or out of the city. The other reason could be one of practicality for many drivers. If you're driving Uber or Lyft as a side gig, then driving during the evening or morning rush hours can make lots of sense for you. You can even use destination filters to pick up passengers along your commute.
Look for Airport Rides
It’s pretty clear people want to get out and travel again. To save on parking fees, people lean toward getting to the airport via ridesharing services.
Sunday evenings may produce very lucrative results for either picking up or dropping off at the airports since most business travelers take red-eye flights before the workweek begins, but it pays to know your market: some smaller cities don’t offer red-eyes because they’re connector hubs, so early mornings throughout the week and weekend could be a better time to get rides. Pay attention to flight statuses by going to your city’s airport website.
Drive on the Weekends!
Although holidays and special events may produce better results, they are mostly temporary. You don’t have to wait around for those few times a year in order to maximize your earnings. Driving on Friday and Saturday nights can help you boost your earnings on a much more regular basis.
Something to Consider: Driving During Inclement Weather
In many cities in the US, snow can cause a lot of drivers to stay home and create a shortage of supply with no lack of demand. These are the times that drivers who take a chance may reap the rewards of high surge rides.
In fact, this can be so profitable for the right drivers, we covered this topic previously here: Tips for Rideshare Driving in the Winter
When bad weather strikes, it pushes people who might otherwise have walked or driven themselves to use rideshare services instead. Just use common sense and never drive in conditions that would endanger you or your passengers. It’s not worth the risk.
Driving on holidays can mean lots of extra earnings, but it all depends on the holiday you choose to drive during. Christmas Day, for instance, is unlikely to bring lots of demand. People are generally at home opening their presents.
New Year’s Eve, on the other hand, can be one of the most profitable nights to drive.
Other lucrative dates include:
- The day before and after Thanksgiving
- Valentine’s Day
- The Super Bowl (it’s a holiday for some!)
- 4th of July
For a full list of the best days to drive rideshare and why, check out our previous article here: The Most Lucrative Rideshare Days of the Year
While every city will be a little different, these suggestions for driving will be a great start to jumpstarting your lucrative rideshare hustle.
Once you get these broad basics down, you can then hone in specifically on what times of the days and weeks your city is jumping - maybe it’s a unique festival that only happens in your city, or a big tourist attraction like the cherry blossoms in DC! Whatever makes your city unique, you’re sure to learn it - and then you can make even more by playing ‘tour guide’ to your passengers!
Harry Campbell is a former Boeing Aerospace Engineer and founder of TheRideshareGuy.com, a blog, podcast and Youtube channel for ridehail drivers and other gig workers and author of, The Rideshare Guide. Over the years, Harry has covered the gig economy industry closely and talked to tens of thousands of drivers and gig workers about their experience on the road.