A DRIVER TELLS ALL
A Driver's Perspective of Getting the Most From Rideshare Services
I drive Lyft and Uber. Professional service is my goal — I am a 4.95+ rated driver (Clean roomy Camry Hybrid with leather seats, equipped with multiple phone chargers for passengers, XMRadio, and mints). In over the nearly 4000 rides between Lyft and Uber, I’ve noticed a few things that I've tried to be proactive in communicating to passengers. Mainly addressing misunderstandings of the system, etiquette, and expectations.
This is a summary of things passengers need to know (listed first) followed by things passengers might want to know, and then things passengers might be shocked to learn.
— USING THE SYSTEM —
1) Please choose a LEGAL place for us to stop and pick you up. ESPECIALLY if you are going to make us wait. For your safety and my sanity please don't approach the car or try to get in until I HAVE STOPPED, and do NOT get out someplace stupid like at a stop light or in stopped traffic. Seriously??! Wait for us to curb the car — PLEASE!
2) On the app, before you lock in your pickup point, please move the PIN in the app to make sure it is on the correct side of the street, at your legal pick up point. This is particularly important in LA which is filled with 5+ lane streets. But also in areas with a lot of alleys and/or tall buildings the GPS will send us to the wrong side of the building if you don’t adjust the location pin first.
—RATING, TIPPING, and ILLEGAL REQUESTS —
3) Giving anything less than a 5 star rating means you want the driver FIRED. Drivers are fired when they drop to 4.6 in LA. Certainly if the driver is truly bad, rate low — but remember that you can cost that person their job. If you DO give a low rating be certain to select the reason/leave a note.
4) Tips are NOT included in the fare. Also, tips are NOT any more "optional" than they are for your waitress at a restaurant. This is a service industry and tips are about the only way we can make minimum wage (or hopefully more). Please remember to tip your driver. FWIW, passengers that stiff divers on their tip also get low ratings. You are getting a discount ride because we are not getting paid appropriately — your tip is required to make up the difference.
5) Just because we are driving Uber or Lyft, we cannot break the law, including stopping at certain illegal places, blocking traffic, etc. For instance there are some bus lanes in Santa Monica near 3rd st Promenade that are a $440 ticket if we stop there.
6) Some additional illegal things passengers try so please don’t: NO open containers of alcohol! NO smoking or vaping marijuana in the car!! (Don’t smoke or vape ANYTHING). We can only take as many passengers as we have seat belts — you can NOT cram 6 passengers into an UberX or Lyft. It’s illegal. And no, I can’t make that illegal left turn just because there are no cops around. Sorry, I’m not going to break the law for you, and if you ask me to do something illegal you may lose your account.
— CHILDREN and PETS —
7) In California, if your child is under 8 you MUST provide a car seat or you cannot ride, period. It’s a $500 fine to the driver, a separate $500 fine to you, a point on the drivers record, and DCFS can be notified for your child endangerment.
8) Also in California, you must be 18 years or older, OR accompanied by an adult to ride. It is a misdemeanor for Lyft or Uber drivers to take an unaccompanied minor. Also, if you allow your minor to use your app, you can have your account permanently suspended.
9) There are other rideshare apps/services that DO specialize in children like HopSkipDrive, KangaDo, and ZUM. Those drivers have Federal Trustline fingerprint background checks and special training.
10) By law we are required to take trained service DOGS. No other animal qualifies, and we are not required to take emotional support animals or pets. I do accept most pets, and I have a dog blanket in the trunk for that purpose. But some drivers won’t and you are advised to call the driver to ask, otherwise you could get hit with a cancel fee. Also be advised that if a driver does allow your pet you may get a low rating regardless.
— PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE —
11) This is my personal car, please act as you would in your friends car. Please don’t eat your dripping chicken wings or oozy greasy pizza in my car. If you bang it up, damage it, leave garbage, vomit, or treat my car or myself with disrespect — you're going to get a one star rating or even a fine. The vomit fine is a minimum of $150, conveniently debited from your card.
12) Please DO NOT backseat drive. This is NOT a TAXICAB. Passengers are not entitled to give orders and command the driver to do their bidding. You’re paying for your destination only, and you're getting a very discounted rate to get there, often BELOW COST. Taxis are paid substantially more for time —Taxis charge around $0.50 a minute in SoCal, but as much as $2.20 a minute in some markets vs the $0.18 a minute WE get from Uber/Lyft (or less. That's not a typo — 18 cents!). .
13) Here's how the system works: YOU choose a destination, and the I the DRIVER takes you there using the most time-efficient route, where I am not going to lose money. You choose the destination, the driver and GPS chooses the route. That said, if you need some quick stops along the way to pickup or drop-off a friend, you can enter that in the app, or ask the driver. BUT:
14) Please don't make drivers wait. We are paid pennies for time, so if our wheels are not turning, we are losing money. There are plenty of drivers available so that you don’t need to schedule so far in advance for pickup.
15) While you pay a fixed price based on your destination, that has nothing to do with how the driver is paid. We are paid primarily by the mile, and only pennies for time. If a passenger backseat drives and insists I take their route, and their route causes me to lose money, they’re gonna get 1 star and blocked so I never get them again.
15b) As a side note you might want to know that the “destination based” pricing you see is set by a machine learning system based on what it thinks you’re willing to pay. For instance, at LAX Uber jacks the rate up 25% (and they do NOT give that to the driver, they pocket it).
16) Along these same lines, unless you an pay a reasonable tip for time, please don’t ask to be taken through a drive-thru, especially In-N-Out (OMG!). Or fill our car with luggage on the way to the airport but then and ask us to stop wait that turns into 30 minutes while you stand in line at FedEx, nor expect us to wait for half an hour at each of 4 stops while you shop and do errands. All of these activities are ABUSIVE to the driver, and yes these things actually happened to me when I first started. Now I politely decline or end these rides.
— THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR PASSENGER RATING —
17) Your passenger rating is important. We are required to rate every single passenger at the end of the ride, and on Lyft we can revise it up to 24 hours later. Good and experienced drivers usually skip past passengers with ratings lower than 4.8 — this means that lower ratings will result in longer waiting times to get a ride, as the system tries to find a driver dumb enough to take a low rated person.
18) We get to choose who we give rides to based on rating. I'll take a 4.7 if it is surging, or if it is really slow. 4.6? hahaha 4.69 and below, forget it!! They are never gonna get into my car. Anytime I accidentally accept a passenger less than 4.7 I regret it.
19) If your rating is lower than 4.8, there is a reason. The four main reasons passengers end up with low ratings are not tipping, making a mess, being a jerk, and anything illegal. Some riders eventually get so low they are unable to use the system, or lose their account. As a general idea:
20) Good passengers that tip consistently have a rating of 4.9 and up. Good passengers that don’t tip end up 4.8 or less. Passengers that make drivers wait, backseat drive, and don’t tip are 4.7 or less. Bad passengers that are entitled nozzles? 4.6 or lower. And if they’re consistently a jerk, they’re going to eventually lose their account. And guess what happens if a passenger lies about tipping through the app? Let’s just say they ain’t gettin’ no 5 stars, LOL. With Lyft if a driver gives you 3 stars, you will be blocked from that driver in the future.
- Not Tipping (passenger receives 4 stars or less, but might get 5, depending).
- Not Tipping on short rides or making the driver wait (3-4 stars or less)
- Not Tipping in rush hour, driver came a long way, or you had lots of bags (2-3 stars)
- Backseat driving (2 stars)
- Making a mess (1 star and fined)
- Being rude, abusive, or an entitled jerk (1 star and reported)
- Anything threatening, or illegal requests (1 star and a safety violation report)
21) I am not required to give an abusive passenger a ride, and they are not entitled to one. If necessary, I can pull over to a sidewalk and safely eject a rude passenger. In 4000 rides, I’ve done that exactly once. Mostly I just put up with it, then rate them and report them to support so that they are blocked from being assigned to me ever again.
22) If you want to improve your passenger rating & get better service, then please:
Always tip your driver in cash.I recommend cash because remember, we are required to rate at the end of the ride and if you tip in the app we might not see it right away. Guidelines: $2 minimum, $5 for most rides, and $10 for airport rides. Also it goes without saying, always be courteous, set the pin properly for pickup, don’t do or ask for illegal things, etc etc.
— THE COMPANIES —
I am often asked which is better, which do I prefer as a driver? Lyft or Uber? As of December 2018 in the Los Angeles market, I will say this:
EVIL: Uber is the evil corporate monster from hell, and they treat drivers like toilet paper. Support, including in person at Redondo, is miserably bad. Online support is next to useless. Phone support is just a person reading the useless online form messages.
GOOD: Lyft treats drivers much better than Uber, though that’s not hard considering Uber’s policies. Support for drivers at Lyft is better and far more driver friendly.
— BUT MONEY? —
$$$: Uber has 75% of the market share, so as a driver you will get more rides. Even though Uber pays a little less, you end up driving more miles and thus make more per hour. Also some of the Uber bonuses are easier to get than Lyft.
$½: Lyft does not have the passenger base to keep drivers looking for real income busy enough. And their main bonus is so hard to qualify for as a result, it’s just too stressful.
— AND PASSENGERS? —
+ + Uber passengers are overall better, more courteous than some Lyft passengers, but this is partly because on Uber there are enough passengers that you can skip the 4.7 and lower ones and still get plenty of rides. Also the Uber rating system is more accurate. The one reservation about Uber passengers is that they stiff drivers on their tip more often.
? ? Lyft passengers? Some are great, and Lyft passengers tip much better than Uber passengers. But it is often joked that Lyft passengers are the ones that Uber kicked out of the system. The one person I kicked out in 4000 rides was a Lyft passenger. Part of the problem is that with Lyft, the passenger ratings are not as meaningful as they are on Uber, and coupled with fewer passengers, you’re less likely to skip the bad ones. The result is you end up with the most abusive self-entitled millennial babies from the planet KissMyAss (it’s near the Degabah system).
—HISTORY and ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS —
There are dozens of rideshare companies but LYFT and UBER are the two biggest in the USA. Lyft was first, starting in 2007 as ZimRides. Uber started as UberTaxi in 2009, a black car service using professional TCP limos. Zim changed names to Lyft when they invented personal ridesharing as the current business in June of 2012. One month later, July 2012, Uber jumped on that bandwagon launching UberX.
The reason people perceive Uber as the first is because Uber raised far more capital and out spent Lyft in terms of early marketing and expansion. Uber shoved its way Into markets around the world (often illegally), expanding like a plague. Lyft was much more conservative and is still North America only.
Uber’s rapid take-no-prisoners approach did not sit well with other transportation companies. Governments around the world have kicked Uber out of their markets by arresting drivers and seizing their vehicles. Uber has been kicked out of major world markets including Germany, Italy, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria , France, Netherlands, Israel, Saudi Arabia, all of Asia except Japan (Uber sold to Didi in China).
Part of the reason for the backlash is that Uber quite literally destroyed existing transportation service infrastructures, which it did by replacing regulated operators using professional drivers with unregulated amateur operators, skirting around laws and regulatory mandates, and paying the new amateur workforce substantially less. Moreover, Uber was booking passengers at below cost in order to build market share and put taxis out of business. Uber lost nearly 5 Billion in cash in 2017.
Meanwhile the average Uber driver makes less than minimum wage, and in some cases Uber drivers lose money every mile they drive according to an MIT study. Coupled with driver treatment and foul policies, Uber;s attrition rate is a staggering 96%. As a comparison, Starbuck’s attrition rate is only 65%.
— THE BIGGEST MYTH —
The biggest myth about rideshare is that it is good for the environment and traffic. The reverse is true. Uber and Lyft results in a doubling of traffic, doubling of gas usage, and doubling of pollution. The only thing it helps with is educing drunk drivers, and a reduction in the parking problem.
Consider why: If you are going to travel someplace in your car, you are going to have ONE car on the road until you reach your destination, and then ZERO cars on the road. With an Uber you have one car on the road till your destination, but THEN there is STILL one car on the road, with no passenger, looking for, or driving to, the next passenger. These are called “deadmiles” and whenever an Uber or Lyft is driving deadmiles, that’s another car on the road that would not be otherwise.
If you want to be environmentally conscious, then use the light rail, subway, or bus. Uber and Lyft are the OPPOSITE of environmentally conscious. Uber and Lyft are worse for the environment, worse for traffic, and worse for passenger safety.
The good?: Uber and Lyft has been helpful in providing flexible low income on demand which is attractive to people in seasonal or sporadic industries such as Actors, other film industry workers, writers. Lyft and Uber has made a substantial reduction of drunk drivers. And it has theoretically eased parking problems in dense cities.
And that’s the best way I can sum it all up.
— Mike Anderson (aka)