How much do Uber drivers make? Four “Hot Tips” to maximize Uber driver pay!

How much do Uber drivers make?  Four “Hot Tips” to maximize Uber driver pay!

A very common question for men and women thinking about being an Uber driver or Lyft driver is: “How much does Uber pay?”

The very best way to take control of your Uber driver salary is to focus on the business of rideshare driving.  Rideshare driving is in every meaningful way running your own business so take this aspect of being an Uber driver and/or Lyft driver seriously, I know I do!

The referenced material for this blog post includes an academic research study from Stanford University focused on determining if male Uber drivers earn more income than female Uber drivers.  Rather than focusing on a potential rideshare driving gender gap, my focus when I digested the referenced material was on what I could learn about making more money as an Uber driver (or Lyft driver).

I should say that I’m not blind to workplace gender inequalities, but as a professional rideshare driver with over 9,000-lifetime trips and over 2 ½ years of full-time hours Uber driver and Lyft driver experience… as well as my role as a Rideshare Driving Industry Analyst… I know that Uber driver and Lyft driver passenger trips requests are assigned automatically by software algorithms and it’s not logical at all to think that software programming code cares if the closest driver is male or female.

So, let’s put aside the idea that there could be a “gender gap” and focus on how much do Uber drivers make and how we can generate more income with our Uber driver and Lyft driver businesses!

Uber and Lyft rarely share passenger trip data which means the research in the referenced materials is very special and worthy of our close attention.

The Stanford team was given access to a dataset containing information about every UberX and UberPOOL trip given in the Chicago area from January 2015 to March 2017.

I really liked the material referenced for this blog post because it:

  1. Provides some “Hot Tips” for increasing our Lyft driver and Uber driver pay
  2. The research is “solid” and again very special because it is based on actual passenger trip data obtained directly from Uber

In the past three years I’ve read hundreds of articles and far too often critical thinking has me discounting or even dismissing what I read because the article’s contents were based on “research” that is not “solid” or more commonly the “research” behind the article was not listed at all.

News articles on rideshare driving saying “rideshare driving is [this]” but based on guesses… guesses that cannot even be determined to be educated guesses don’t sway my thinking.

In my writing efforts (this blog and two books on rideshare driving) if I’m guessing I will say so clearly, and I won’t venture a guess unless I believe it is an educated guess based on three years of sharp focus on the rideshare driving industry.

As a Rideshare Industry Analyst it is my job to stay informed.  As the internet blogger: “The Accidental Rideshare Expert” it is my goal to deliver high-quality content in an easy to read format, so enough with the prolog let’s cut right to the chase and explore the question of how much do Uber drivers make and how we can all earn more!


The referenced article and academic research paper documents three factors that tends to lead to higher earnings from rideshare driving, and I’ve added a fourth item because it’s my goal that rideshare drivers not only earn maximum income, I want rideshare drivers to enjoy the “gig” or at least don’t think the gig… well, you know what I’m saying?

Join me as I walk through strategies backed by real data and academic research and learn how we can all generate more income as an Uber driver and/or Lyft driver.  (Remember I’m a driver too and as of October 2018 still working full-time hours as an Uber driver and Lyft driver… and if you’re wondering, yes, my work on this blog and other RideshareGuide activities keep me very busy!)

EARN MORE #1: Driving speed.

The research shows that drivers who complete passenger trips more efficiently earn more income.

Now we’re not talking about blatant speeding or unsafe driving.

When I drive I’m focused on getting my passengers where they are going efficiently by driving the way I would if I were running a little late for an important appointment but did not want to get a speeding ticket on the way.

Also true, most passengers are distracted by their smartphones, if they look up I don’t want them thinking: “Holy buckets Batman watch out for that water truck!”

When I’m an Uber driver (or Lyft driver) I’m paying close attention to traffic attempting to read what is happening directly in front of me… and also down the road ahead.

I’ve found that attempting to make the “best time” by flowing with traffic works better than focusing on just passing the cars that are in front of mine.  If the road ahead is looking pretty full then passing a couple of cars really isn’t going to accomplish much.

On the other hand, if there is a vehicle traveling just at or even below the posted speed limit working to get around that vehicle can make a significant difference how quickly I complete that passenger trip so I can move on to the next trip.

I also try to be first at a traffic light, again only if I can do so safely.  Changing lanes when I see the chance to be first at the red light allows me the opportunity to get in front of the pack.

My book The Art of Rideshare Driving includes a detailed exploration into the topic of driving efficiently and other things an Uber driver or Lyft driver can do to generate more income.

The referenced article and research paper are focused on gender gap, I know I said: “…let’s put aside the idea…” however, I’m inclined to share that in my experience the average male driver on a long road trip is more focused on “making good time” compared to the average female driver.  Maybe in the male genome it’s standard equipment from the factory but that doesn’t make the tactic exclusive to males?

So forget about being a man or a woman, learn from the research and choose for yourself how you want to drive.

My retired friend who now drives for Uber is not concerned as much as I am about maximizing his income, he is happy with what he earns taking it “easy.”  Rideshare driving is very personal and one of the coolest things about being an Uber driver or Lyft driver is getting to choose how you want to approach the “gig.”

EARN MORE #2:  Where and when you drive

As I’ve shared before I’m a data analyst, my brain has always been “wired up” to look for the “why” of everything.

I’ve driven all over Denver metropolitan area and I’m always paying attention to where I seem to get the most trips.  This exploration did not bear much fruit for thousands of rides because as a data analyst I know it takes a large dataset (thousands of trips) before it is possible to find meaningful answers from the data.

The Stanford University research suggests that driving more “late night hours” results in higher earnings.

I’ve completed thousands of rideshare trips that started after midnight but I made the decision to end my driving day before midnight.

Most of my passengers guess that I stopped driving after midnight because of intoxicated riders, when the truth is the late-night hours did not work well for me, from all those late nights I was feeling tired during the day when trying to enjoy time with my kids.

Over a year ago I almost completely stopped driving after midnight.  In order to have the same average full-time, 40 hours per week I just get on the road earlier in the day.

Getting on the road by 2 p.m. means I catch all of the busy afternoon “rush hour” rideshare passengers and most of the time when passengers tend to be going to, and coming home from, restaurants and bars.

What is really nice for me, when I see the clock on my dash going past 9 p.m. I know I’m almost done for the day instead of thinking “4-6 hours more hours to go.”

I also started driving more during the day on Saturdays and Sundays.  When I knew I’d be out of the road at 3-4 a.m. on weekend nights I started later in the day.  I slept in on Saturday and Sunday (when the kids weren’t with me) and typically didn’t get on the road those days until late afternoon or early evening.

In my current Uber driver (and Lyft driver) habits, on Saturdays and Sundays I often get out on the road as early as 10 a.m. and after over a year of driving those hours I’ve learned there are a lot of passenger trips and maybe fewer drivers on the road… maybe because they are still sleeping in from late nights as an Uber driver and Lyft driver?

After over a year and thousands of trips, the data in the spreadsheet I use to track my daily earnings proved to me I didn’t have to work after midnight to meet my earning goals.  Now I’m far less tired and have increased my enjoyment of time with my kids.

If driving late night hours works for you then great, I made good money working after midnight.

EARN MORE #3:  Driver’s experience (total number of lifetime trips)

This is credible research reporting rideshare drivers with more experience earn more income.

The referenced article and academic paper state that drivers with at least 2,500-lifetime rideshare driving trips earn approximately 14% more income compared to drivers with significantly fewer trips.

One way to gain the knowledge drivers with over 2,500-lifetime trips is to arm yourself with all the information you can find.  Clearly you are attempting to do just that because you're reading my blog.  If you are also reading other online sources attempting to answer the question: “how much do uber drivers make” I suspect you’ve seen a lot of conflicting and sometimes confusing information.

I spent months and hundreds of hours writing (and re-writing countless times) my book The Art of Rideshare Driving and I believe everyone who reads the book will possess at least as much information as a driver with 2,500-lifetime trips?  In fact, I believe it so completely both of my books come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Imagine that, increase your potential income 14% from your first day on the road?  Earn back what you pay for a book almost immediately?  Sound like good use of your time and a little bit of your dough?

EARN MORE #4:  Pick the optimum hours to maximize potential income

Covered in point #2 above, however, as I said my goals include helping Uber drivers and Lyft drivers maximize their income and they also include helping drivers enjoy the rideshare driving “gig” and hopefully not go “nuts” and quit 30 to 90 days after the first rideshare driving trip.

The idea that most drivers quit soon after starting is no a guess or even an educated guess, countless articles and even information made public by Uber and Lyft report that most rideshare drivers will quit soon after their first passenger trip… every wonder why taxi drivers tend to be so grumpy?

When you decide what hours to driver think about what’s best for you and remember that passengers booking rideshare trips are going all kinds of places at all times of the day and in all parts of every medium to large city where an Uber driver or Lyft driver is available to pick them up.

Make your own choices when to drive, have a life you deserve one, understand when you are making a choice that may be different from the research referenced in this blog post you are exercising one of the best benefits of being an Uber driver and Lyft driver… you choose when to work!

Related to my point #4 the research says men tend to drive more total hours compared to women so reach higher lifetime trip numbers more quickly.  Ok that’s interesting but how does that help you?

I have over 9,000-lifetime trips completed in 2 ½ years driving full-time hours… that equates to about 3,600 trips per year or about 70 trips per week.  At that rate 2,500 trips would take about 8 months driving full-time hours.

I’ve seen lots of research over the years saying most Uber drivers (and Lyft drivers) in the United States are working part-time hours averaging about 10 hours per week.  Using my personal average trip/time data 10 hours per week equates to about 17 trips per week.  At that rate it would take almost three years to reach 2,500 trips.

This part of the referenced research excites me the most!

This reality is exactly why I wrote The Art of Rideshare Driving!

In The Art of Rideshare Driving I document everything I’ve learned about being a successful rideshare driver, especially about avoiding the pitfalls new drivers experience; the content of the book helps new drivers become comfortable with the “gig” more quickly and maximize their rideshare driving income from day one.

I firmly believe that after reading The Art of Rideshare Driving you’ll know at least as much as a driver with 2,500-lifetime trips, probably more because few drivers are going to have my diverse professional background.

With all that knowledge at your disposal it will be easier to start out rideshare driving with your focus on learning the ins and outs of your particular city.

You won’t have to spend months figuring out the basics of the Uber driver (and Lyft driver) “gig.”

MAIN TAKEAWAYS:  As a rideshare driver it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman since all rideshare passenger Trip Requests are delivered by software looking for the driver in the best position to pick up passengers.  It’s not logical to think that Uber and Lyft applications would have software algorithms that cared if the closest driver is a man or a woman.

In my opinion gender does not come into play in being an Uber driver or Lyft driver; gender does not help answer the question:” how much do uber drivers make”; gender doesn’t help us understand how much does uber pay or in any way effect uber driver pay… because every driver chooses how they run their personal rideshare driving business.


Final note:  If you’re like me and when you are reading an article you like to follow almost every embedded link you will find this article: “Uber Only Survives on the Backs of Low Paid Drivers.”

This article attempts to make the case that rideshare driving “Take Home Pay” is extremely low and the referenced research seems credibly in part because it was authored by MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is a well-respected educational institution, however, this study and the resulting academic research paper was discredited by numerous sources including some leading economists.

Unfortunately, Uber, and not MIT, took most of the “heat” for the errant information and all of the “bad” press that resulted from the public release of the MIT research paper.

It turned out the MIT research was based on another research study that did not use a statistically-relevant sample of rideshare driver’s income experiences and that study also suffered from poor wording of survey questions which led to inaccurate conclusions and essentially unusable results.

MIT was not the only one who used the poor research that led the MIT researches astray, in the days after the first study was released countless news articles referenced the study and made determinations and summations which were incorrect and, in some cases, (my opinion) ridiculous.

This is not just me talking, although I saw the first news articles referencing the MIT research the same day the MIT academic paper was publicly released, and I was immediately annoying the Rideshare Guide team by peppering them with texts, emails, and phone calls.  They love me… I think?

Here are some credible source articles related to the aftermath of the MIT report:


Uber's Gender Pay Gap Study May Show The Opposite Of What Researchers Were Trying To Prove

The Gender Earnings Gap in the Gig Economy: Evidence from over a Million Rideshare


How much do Uber drivers make? Four “Hot Tips” to maximize Uber driver pay!