[Update!] 6 Rideshare Driver Strategies & How They Can (or cannot) Work For You

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Everyone’s first experience as a rideshare driver goes a little bit like this…

You clean and prepare your car with water bottles, gum, and other random candies for your passengers and proceed to setup your heads up display with your phone. No need for Waze, the Uber Navigation system will be great.

After you finish you turn on your app and you’re off!

Five hours later you’ve completed three rides for $25… Not exactly the cash cow that you were hoping for.


The hard truth is that being a rideshare driver isn’t easy, and it isn’t going to get easier anytime soon. If you’re going to be successful, you need to adopt a strategy that will work for you.

That’s why in today’s blog post we’re going to dissect 6 rideshare strategies and discuss how you can make them work for you. These will include:

  • The Airport Driver
  • The Event Driver
  • The Rush Hour Warrior
  • The Late Night Driver
  • The Surge Chaser
  • The Surge Avoider

Let’s dive in!


The Airport driver

On the surface level driving airports is a simple strategy. You focus on serving the rider demand coming from incoming flights at your local airports.

This is a very effective driving strategy IF utilized correctly because you’re more likely to get a large fare. In D.C. for instance, you may find that fares are usually around $15. One trip from Dulles Airport to Downtown D.C. could be $50 – $60 depending on traffic, weather, and any surge pricing.

The trade off here is that you have to wait in the queue, which will decrease the number of rides that you get. You can potentially wait at the airport for a very long time if you don’t have a good strategy.


How you can implement the airport driving strategy

There is a lot of money to be made driving airports as long as you’re spending your time wisely. Pittsburgh rideshare Jeff Upton has perfected this driving strategy by making sure he always knows when the most passengers are arriving at the airport.

Jeff used to use services like Flight Tracker which would do a great job of telling him when flights were coming in, but not how many passengers were on each plane. Jeff now uses Gridwise to predict when the most passengers will be at the airport.



If you predict demand before you arrive at the airport, even queues of 80 – 100 cars can be cleared out in 20 – 30 minutes if a large volume of passengers arrive.

A great airport strategy doesn’t just include arriving passengers. Departing passengers can be equally as lucrative if you are in the right place at the right time, which is again predictable with a tool like Gridwise.

All you need to do is track when the most passengers are departing from your local airport and understand where those passengers are. It’s common for business travelers to leave local hotels Thursday and Friday mornings from 4 am – 7 am, so you should be thinking about hanging out near popular business hotels. On holidays and during the summer time in tourist heavy cities like Washington D.C. and Chicago, you’ll find many people leaving to head to the airport Sunday night to head home, so hanging near your more family-oriented hotels works really well.



Again, check your Gridwise app to make sure you know when planes will be departing. I suggest starting to gravitate towards hotels on your list about 2 1/2 hours before scheduled peak hours.


Who should be driving airports

Everyone can incorporate some aspect of the airport strategy into their driving strategy. Airports likely won’t be a focus for you every day, however, take a look at demand each day before you start driving. If there is a peak time during your planned driving window, take advantage of it.

People that benefit the most from the airport strategy include:

– Suburban drivers

– Early birds (for the 4 am – 7 am business travelers)

– Drivers with kids which make it difficult to drive rush hour


The Event Driver

In the rideshare world, events are like traffic signs that tell you exactly where to go. If there is a large or even a medium sized event, you can bet that right after there will be a significant number of people looking for rides from Uber, Lyft, zTrip, or other TNC’s, which means a surge in rider demand.

Because events do such a great job of predicting rider demand, driving events is one of the best strategies rideshare drivers can employ. This strategy does require that you know what’s going on around your city and when.


How you can implement the event driving strategy

If you’re old enough to have taken a Taxi, you’ll remember that those guys always knew what was going on in the city. They kept a newspaper in their car to make sure they knew what shows, concerts, and festivals were in town and kept their ear to the ground to make sure nothing slipped by them. That knowledge is how they made their money.

As a rideshare driver, you must have the same mindset. If there is any sort of event going on around town that brings a large group of people, know about it and plan for it.

This includes:

  • Sporting events
  • Concerts
  • Festivals
  • Comedy Shows
  • Plays
  • Big Movie Releases
  • Conventions
  • Expo’s
  • Fairs
  • Public Parties

Now you have two choices, you can scour the internet looking at 10 -15 different websites to find and map all of these events, or you could use Gridwise to plan your work schedule around the biggest events in your city up to a week in advance.


Free Bonus: Know what events are going on around your city using the FREE Gridwise app.


Who should drive events?

Driving events is another strategy that everyone should use as there are events going on at various times throughout the day.

People that benefit the most from the event strategy include:

– Drivers with kids which make it difficult to drive rush hour

– Suburban drivers that need to make the most of their city trips

– Part-time drivers that work during rush hours

– Any driver that commonly works weeknight evenings


The Rush Hour Driver

Ah, the rush hour. The go to driving time for so many of us rideshare drivers, and for good reason. If you’re in a large to medium sized city, you can count on people needing rides for various reasons from 4 am – 10 am and 4 pm – 7 pm Monday – Friday.


How to implement the morning rush hour strategy

To understand rush hour demand, let’s take a look at what type of passengers you’ll be picking up.

  • Professionals on their way to work
  • Professionals going from the airport to work/home
  • Professionals traveling between offices
  • Students going to class
  • Parents dropping off their kids for class
  • Public transportation riders stranded by broken down trains and buses

If you’re a driver starting very early, you’ll want to first focus on airport trips from departing passengers as we discussed in the airport strategy section above. From 4 am – 7 am if you stay near the right hotels you’re likely to find a rider headed to the airport. With any luck, you’ll catch a peak airport hour and be able to take a ride back into the city.

If you live in a more suburban area, you can choose to strategically target airports based on peak hours and find a passenger headed into the city. Or you can focus on the suburbs where you’ll likely catch a ride into the city.

Once you arrive into a city, you can focus on busy professional areas, near universities, or near hotels during tourist season.

Keep an eye out for alerts regarding delays and cancellations of public transportation. People caught without public transportation will need rides badly and likely won’t want to wait out a surge.


Who it’s for

Not everyone can drive during the morning rush hour. If you have kids, are in school, or have a full-time job, for instance, the morning rush hour might not be for you.

People that benefit the most from the rush hour strategy include:

  • Full-time drivers living in the city
  • Full-time drivers living in the suburbs
  • Part-time drivers that work late and miss out on late night rides


The Late Night Driver

For some, driving late nights isn’t the easiest thing in the world. For one, you don’t get to be the one going out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. You’ll also need to deal with busier streets and sometimes difficult passengers.

For those willing to hustle during the weekend nights, however, driving late nights is one of the most profitable driving strategies.


How to implement the late night strategy

Depending on your city, late night driving is Thursday – Sunday starting at 10 pm and lasting until 3 am. Throughout the night, most of your rides will be for people either going to bars/restaurants or coming from bars/restaurants. If you get out early you can often find events that will be letting out, but your main focus will be the bar scene.

Depending on your city, start out in a more residential neighborhood. You’ll find a ride into the more popular bar areas of town and from there you’ll almost certainly be able to easily find a ride. If you’re having any trouble early in the night, head closer to a popular university or back towards a residential area where you’ll likely find more passengers headed to local bar areas.

Bars will let out about 2:00 in most cities, so be ready as this is a predictable surge that you’ll want to take advantage of.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Intoxicated people at 2:00 am in a moving car for 20+min… Sounds like a recipe for a messy car, but a rider vomiting in your car is actually a pretty rare occasion. Most drivers have never experienced this and if they have, not more than a time or two. Even though it is rare, I would carry a barf bag… Just in case.


Who should drive late nights

As I said before the late night strategy is not for everyone. If you have young children that you need to take care of or just have to have your weekend nights, then this might not be the best driving strategy for you. However, for many, this is the ideal strategy. This includes:

  • Part-time drivers unable to drive during the day
  • Full-time drivers living in the city


The Surge Chaser

I’m not going to parse words here. Chasing the surge is a bad strategy. Many new drivers attempt to flock toward a big red area on their Uber app only to find that they are actually not getting any rides.

This is because the area quickly becomes saturated and riders actually stop calling for rides until the surge disappears. We go into depth about why this strategy doesn’t work in our article “Why you should never Chase the Surge (and what you should do instead)”.


How to implement chasing the surge

Well, you don’t…

Instead of reactively seeing a surge and then heading right to it, you need to predict where rider demand will be. If you use the four strategies we stated above, you can easily predict where rider demand will be highest and when.


Who should be chasing surges

Chasing the surge and coming up short is a sort of right of passage for rideshare drivers. So we say save this tactic for the newbies. Once you’re a few rides deep, let this one go.


The Contrarian

This person is sort of the opposite of the surge chaser. They take on the unique challenge of finding the spots where there are few-to-no drivers around. These have lower rider demand but give you steady business because there is so little competition. You get regulars at the pickup spots that you frequent but most other drivers avoid.

These are your drivers that are driving for the enjoyment of driving. They want to get out, explore their city and have some nice conversations.


Which type of driver are you?

The answer should be a mix of these strategies. What works for one driver might not work for all, so it’s up to you to find what works best for you. So we’re interested to hear what strategies you are using and how you’re using them.

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