Pittsburgh Driving Strategy: Your Guide to Peak Driving Hours

Pittsburgh Driving Strategy: Your Guide to Peak Driving Hours


As a rideshare driver in Pittsburgh, you get a first-hand view of everything our city has to offer.

Sure, Pittsburgh is considered a small, mid-market city when compared to the likes of New York or Chicago, but look at all we have to offer.

Our world class airport welcomes musical artists like Bruno Mars Bon Jovi, Eric Church, and Run the Jewels to play at Stage AE in Northshore, Rex Theatre on the South Side and of course, PPG Paints Arena.

Iconic bars like Jack’s on the South Side headline one of the best bar scenes that the Midwest has to offer and our cultural district boasts theatre after theatre that is home to award winning shows.

Let’s not forget our renowned universities that are driving technological boom rarely seen outside of Silicon Valley, and let’s not forget that we do love our Steelers, Penguins, and the Pirates.

This city has A LOT to offer, so a smart rideshare driver has A LOT to take advantage of even in a “mid-market” city. So in today’s post I’m going to walk you through all of the best times and places to drive in Pittsburgh.

Let’s get to it!

Weekdays (Monday – Wednesday)

The morning rush (4 am – 10 am)

The morning rush starts early on Monday and Tuesday mornings thanks to business travelers looking to catch their red eye flights. If you can wake up and hit the road early, you’ll want to hang out downtown near the hotels like the Fairmont and the Double Tree. During the early morning hours from 4-6, you’re very likely to pick up a rider headed to the airport.

From the airport, you’ll then have a great opportunity to catch a traveler coming into the city. These are also likely to be business travelers as well, so most of them will need some transportation back into the city to check into their hotel or head to the office. You can use your Gridwise app to check the airport queue before you set off to the airport to ensure there aren’t too many drivers already there.

[su_note note_color=”#fefedf”]Free Bonus: Know how many other drivers are in the airport before you arrive using the FREE Gridwise app.[/su_note]

If you’re coming from the suburbs, especially  North Hills, around 7:00, it’s worth it to stick around for awhile as you’ll most likely get called for a ride to either the airport or the city.

From 7:00 – 10:00 most of the city will see a good amount of demand. Sticking close to the downtown area will result in another trip and depending on the time of the year driving near Carnegie Mellon University can yield great results.

The afternoon rush hour (3-6)

The afternoon rush is another great time to focus on business heavy areas and professionals looking for rides either from office to office or from their offices back home.

It’s not uncommon for the entire central business district to light up with surges, especially when the weather becomes a factor. This predictable surge is a great opportunity for a long ride to the suburbs and even the airport.

Late night (10 – 3)

Late nights during weekdays are relatively quiet since the bars won’t be flooded. Smart drivers can still find great opportunities, however.

You can start by knowing what events are going on in town. Theatres like The Rex and Mr. Smalls regularly have shows that end around 11:00 and the entire theatre district will often be buzzing, especially in the summer time.

Plan out your week using the Gridwise app in order to take advantage of the biggest and most profitable events in town.

Around 11:30 during the fall if you drive near the Carnegie Mellon Library you’ll get a pickup from one or a group of students getting in a late night study session.

Weekends (Thursday – Saturday)

The morning rush (4 am – 10 am)

Thursday and Friday mornings are going to be similar to Monday – Wednesday mornings. The exception is that you’ll likely see a boost of riders heading to the airport for their weekend trips. You can predict airport demand again using your Gridwise app.

Rider demand on Saturday mornings tends to be light, aside from a few ultra late night passengers. One of the most common places to find these passengers is near the Rivers Casino. Rivers is a 24-hour casino, however, there tends to be an exodus at around 4:00 – 5:00 am.

If you’re not going for the ultra late night passengers, Saturday morning would be a great time to relax and sleep in!

Daytime hours (10 – 3)

Daytime hours on Thursday and Friday in Pittsburgh are relatively quiet. Save your gas unless there is a compelling event going on.

During the daytime, the city of Pittsburgh is buzzing with events going on all around town. In the summer you can find festivals, shows, tastings, meet ups, showcases, and other events all around the city.

If you’re coming from a suburb you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a rider that’s headed into the city. So wait around for a good ride. From there plan your riding schedule by understanding what events are going on around town.

The afternoon rush hour (3-7)

Thursday and Friday’s rush hours are similar to Monday – Wednesday. Stick to your common business area’s and you’ll find a rider demand.

On Saturday’s you need to again be strategic and focus on areas that are hotbeds for events. Around 7:00 many people will just start to go out to bars and restaurants around town.

This is again a great time to come into the city from areas like North Hill as you’ll find passengers looking to come into the city.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on airport traffic. During the fall you’ll find an increase in airport demand due to the fans of Steelers opponents arriving to watch their team get smacked around.

Late night (10 – 3)

Late nights on the weekend are prime time hours for rideshare drivers.

When students are in town you can start your nights focusing on areas like Oakland and Squirrel Hill to take advantage of the students that will be wanting rides to the bars of the South Side, Lawrenceville, and Bloomfield.

From there you have a few options on where you want to focus. You can stick to popular bar areas and get plenty of trips. The downside is that you’ll likely spend a good amount of time in traffic.

If you want to try and focus on a less saturated area of the city, again, check out what events are going on. If there are big events going on at Studio AE or the PPG Paints Arena, don’t be afraid to venture toward those areas.

As the night comes to an end, you’ll, of course, get your fair share of intoxicated passengers. Be a courteous driver and I would recommend engaging less than you would during the daytime. If you’ve invested in a dashboard camera, make sure it’s just to protect yourself from fraudulent passenger claims.

With so many options for late night driving, it’s hard to go wrong driving from 10pm-3am on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights.


The morning rush (4 am – 10 am)

Pittsburgh likes to sleep in Sunday mornings and you should too. Especially if you were driving the bar scene late Saturday night. Later in the mornings, you can catch a few riders headed to brunch, but this is generally a quiet time.

Daytime hours (10 – 3)

You’ll find Sunday’s during the daytime can be lazy when there isn’t much going on in the city. There are some popular attractions like the Carnegie Science Center, the Andy Warhol Museum, and the Carnegie Museum of Art that usually yield groups of riders. However, your biggest Sunday’s in Pittsburgh come in the fall.

8-weeks out of the year (probably more) during the fall you’ll find about 60,000 people flocking from their homes and hotels to watch our Pittsburgh Steelers beat on some poor team from out of town. These are big time opportunities for rideshare drivers both before and after the games.

The afternoon rush hour (3-7)

Sunday afternoons are event driven in Pittsburgh. Whether it be a show, concert, Penguins game, or Steelers Game, events should be your main focus.

You’ll also start to see airport demand start to creep up for both departing and arriving passengers. Keep an eye on your Gridwise app so you don’ miss crucial airport peaks.

Late night (10 – 3)

Sunday nights in Pittsburgh are event driven as well. You’ll continue to find business travelers looking to come into or leave out of the city on Sunday evenings, so check your flight schedules using the Gridwise app. Gravitating toward the downtown area where popular business hotels are located will commonly yield you a ride to one of Pittsburgh’s airports.

With any luck, you’ll arrive at a peak airport time and can catch a ride back into the city.

Pittsburgh is a city where it’s important to always drive strategically to maximize your hourly earnings. There are a few times where you can count on rider demand as long as you drive in popular areas. During slower hours it’s important to be strategic and have a plan before you get out on the road. Use apps like Gridwise to help you understand what’s going on in your city and develop a solid driving plan in just a few minutes.

Now, what’s your favorite time to drive in Pittsburgh? Share in the comments below!


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