Chicago rideshare drivers are crafty…
That’s because they have to be.
On a recent trip to Chicago, we found out just how crafty Chicago Rideshare drivers NEED to be.
The Chicago rideshare market is booming but also saturated with drivers. So the most profitable drivers are acting strategically, planning their routes, and optimizing their driving performance.
We got a chance to catch up with numerous rideshare drivers over the last week to talk about their strategies, and we expected their tactics to be drivers in places like D.C. and Pittsburgh, but being a successful driver in Chicago requires different strategies than those other cities.
In today’s blog post, we’ll discuss the strategies that Chicago area rideshare drivers are using to earn more in the Chicago rideshare market.
Embrace the Suburbs
The Chicagoland area has just over 9.4 million residents, with the majority of those citizens living outside of Chicago’s city limits. That means millions are living in cities like Aurora, Elgin, Joliet, and Waukegan.
Chicago’s massive suburban population creates a unique scenario where rideshare drivers can make just as much driving in the suburbs as they could driving in the City. This is because there are significantly fewer drivers in the suburbs, but the large suburban population means that demand will still be strong. You’ll also likely receive longer fares as riders will typically be looking for rides that last 20 minutes – 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes – 15 minutes like they would in the city.
They key to success is driving in the right suburbs at the right time.
Drivers that we spoke to that had success in the Chicago area focused on driving in or near DuPage county. These cities would include:
- Glen Ellyn
- St. Charles
If you plan on tackling the suburbs, start by focusing on the early weekday mornings. Thousands of working professionals are commuting to work, or the airport during from 4:00 am – 7:00 am which means rideshare drivers have huge opportunities long trips to O’Hare, Midway, downtown Chicago, or other suburbs.
Late nights on weekends can also be just as profitable in the suburbs as they are in downtown Chicago if you focus on suburban downtown areas in affluent cities like Naperville and St. Charles.
Know the Underground
One of the biggest pieces of advice that I heard from veteran rideshare drivers in Chicago was to learn the underground roads in Chicago VERY well.
Throughout the city, there are underground streets such as Lower Wacker Michigan Ave, Kinzie, and Randolph that can be accessed from Lake Shore and Wacker.
Taking these roads can be a great time saver, and will give you a chance to impress your riders with your ability to find the fastest route. The problem with the lower streets is that your GPS won’t work underground, so you’ll need to learn the streets very well.
Familiarize yourself with the underground streets by taking an hour or two during the night to drive around. Learn where the entrances are, where the exits are, and how to best navigate the streets.
Taking a bit of time to learn these streets will pay off whenever you’re driving in the city.
You can also check out the map below to get an idea of where the underground roads are and where they go.
No Amazon didn’t get into the ridesharing business (yet), but they have started hiring independent drivers to deliver their packages from their distribution facilities to customers’ homes.
Many Chicago area rideshare drivers are using Amazon Flex to supplement their income because the service pays at least $18 per hour and nearly $22 per hour on average.
The catch is that it is can be very difficult to become an independent contractor for Amazon, and when you do, it can be difficult to get more than one or two 4 hour shifts per month.
Luckily for Chicago area drivers, Chicago is one of Amazon’s most popular hubs, so they are frequently hiring drivers opening up more and more shifts.
Chicago drivers should take advantage of Amazon Flex and boost their income.
Uber and Lyft aren’t the only players in town. In Chicago, rideshare drivers can also drive for the up and coming service Via.
Via is a new rideshare company that focuses on allowing drivers to pick-up and drop-off passengers along a designated route. You will still be shuttling around multiple passengers, similar to Lyft Line or Uber Pool, however, when you get a “match” and add another passenger to your route, you will add a multiplier to the trip. It’s not uncommon to see 1.5x – 2.5x multipliers for picking up multiple passengers.
Chicago area drivers are taking advantages of Via’s match multiplier system, which they call Rocket Pay Multiplier, along with the lower commissions of Via. Unlike Uber and Lyft, Via only takes a 5% cut from your earnings.
What’s even better is that Via currently offers a $300 signup bonus in Chicago, along with attractive referral bonus offers. Via is still a very new platform in Chicago, so getting your fellow rideshare drivers to switch over to Via can be very profitable.
How are you making more money?
We learned a ton about the Chicago rideshare game on our recent trip to the windy city, but we want to know how YOU are beating Uber and Lyft at their own game.
Let us know what tricks you’re using to maximize your earnings in the comments below!