How To Find The Best Times And Places To Drive For Uber, Lyft


You sign up for Lyft or Uber, go through the app so you understand it, put the decals on your car, and hook up the Uber beacon or Lyft Amp, and you’re ready to make money. 

Except that’s not happening, at least for you. 

Sure, you get some rides, but you’re not making the $250 or $300 a night you hear others talking about. It looks as if there are a lot of rideshare drivers out there, and they all have passengers. You don’t have as many. It’s no wonder that out of every 100 rideshare drivers who download the app and go out for the first time, a year later only four drivers are still at it

If you’re stubborn enough to stick it out, after a month or so you’ll see your earnings increase. They’re not exactly where you want them to be, but the money gets better. You’ve learned a few tricks. You’ve also discovered what are general peak times for driving Uber and Lyft. 

Do you know all of them, though? Take a few minutes as Gridwise reveals the best times to drive rideshare and earn money.

Here's what we cover:

Strategies and tactics for rideshare drivers

There is more to being a successful driver than turning on the app and waiting for ride requests to appear. You can strategically position yourself at the right place and at the right time to get rides. 

Gridwise has published several blog posts on how to be more successful as a gig driver. Take a few minutes and click on these links:

You can also download the Gridwise app and start reaping the benefits of the best app on the market for rideshare drivers. 

The Gridwise app includes useful features, such as When to Drive and Where to Drive. Drivers can see where the business is in real time. If you like airport rides, you can monitor arrivals and departures at local airports. Sporting events and concerts also appear on the app, telling drivers when these events conclude and where they can find spectators who need transportation to their next destination.

When to drive and Airport features on the gridwise app

The Gridwise app also has the best mileage tracker for gig drivers. This, coupled with an expense tracker, lets drivers maximize their tax deductions, keeping even more money in their pockets.  

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But there is more …

What are the best times and places to drive?

As you’ve figured out, there are ideal times and places to drive. What are general peak times for driving Uber and Lyft? Time is important, but so is location. Some of those places and times show up on the rideshare and Gridwise apps. Others are well-guarded secrets. Taking full advantage of those locations requires knowledge that only a few drivers have. Here is a list, and we will start with one that few drivers are aware of.

After-hours clubs

After-hours clubs are an opportunity that won’t appear on a rideshare app. The liquor laws in every state are different. In California, bars and stores cannot sell liquor after 2:00 am, and they can start up again at 6:00 am. In the meantime, alcohol (and other substances) flows freely at after-hours clubs in many downtown areas, often located in side-street warehouses or other large spaces. If you stay out late enough, you will get ride requests to and from these locations. These rides can often go throughout the night and continue after sunrise. Take note of them. You might also ask your passengers if they know of any after-hours clubs. One nice perk: the clientele can be exclusive, such as celebrities and the well-heeled, making for a heftier tip. The downside: your passengers are often quite inebriated. Have a supply of emesis bags. 

Early morning airport runs

What are Lyft peak times in the morning, and for that matter, what are morning peak times for Uber? If you live in the suburbs of a major metro area with a large airport, such as Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago, take advantage of those early morning airport runs. One Southern California rideshare driver reports that he hits the road at 4:00 am, sets his destination on the app toward LAX, and 90% of the time, he has a ride to the airport by 4:30 am. 

“There are days I turn on my app while I’m still in the kitchen drinking my final cup of coffee,” he says, “and within minutes, I’m going 50 miles to LAX. Mondays are especially good peak times for Lyft and Uber, but this happens just about any day of the week. And after I drop off my ride, I’m in Los Angeles at the beginning of the morning rush hour. There is no end to the business.”

Gridwise offers a detailed airport feature for rideshare drivers, try it out!

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If you have access to the outer suburbs of a metro area served by a major airport, early morning airport runs are the best time to drive for Uber on weekdays. The same applies to Lyft. 

Thirsty Thursdays

With the advent of four-day workweeks, and other folks who just want to get an early jump on the weekend, Thursdays are a busy night and have been dubbed “Thirsty Thursdays.” Thirsty Thursdays are even more intense in large towns with colleges, as no self-respecting college student schedules Friday classes. 

On Thirsty Thursday, the best time for Uber drivers, as well as Lyft drivers, starts during rush hour and can last until the wee hours. In some cities, Thursday nights often rival Friday nights in the volume of rideshare business. 


Weekend nights are the busiest, with Lyft and Uber peak hours starting early. Hit the road at 5 pm, and you often get ride requests from groups going out for drinks before dinner or those who want to beat the traffic to a concert or sporting event. You can expect business to steadily increase throughout the night, with a noticeable spike about two hours before the bars close. This is when FOMO sets in, otherwise known as fear of missing out. Young people, and older folks, too, panic, thinking they’re not at the hottest bar in town, and they want to go someplace else. FOMO settles down about midnight, and the next spike hits when the bars close. The increased demand at closing hour can last as long as 60 minutes, as many make their way to nearby restaurants before going home. There are lots of rides. 

Colleges and universities

University of Southern California, near downtown Los Angeles, has an arrangement with Lyft. The university picks up the tab for all student rideshares from 7:00 pm until 1:30 am, as long as they are within a certain radius of the campus. The beginning and the end of this period are peak times for Lyft. The rides are shared, meaning each pickup counts as a ride. The students use it like water. The policy takes a lot of people off the street who might have had too much to drink and keeps concerned parents happy. In the last full year before the pandemic, USC paid for 35,000 rides, according to a father who attended freshman parent orientation. 

Some drivers don’t like shorter, shared rides, but if you’re aiming for a goal for a Lyft sprint, USC is a great way to get ten rides in an hour. Check out your local colleges and see if they have similar policies, such asAssumption College in Worcester, MA; Lesley University in Cambridge, MA; and College of San Mateo, near San Diego, CA. There are many others. Do the research and make sure you know the details. 

Special events

Parades, large street fairs, celebrations, conventions, and trade shows offer opportunities for countless rideshare requests. The first weekend of June 2023 saw 100,000 participants and spectators descend on West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Blvd. to celebrate gay pride. There are trade shows, too. Because these are business-related events, attendees charge their rides, and correspondingly large tips, to their company credit cards.

If you live near a town like Palm Springs, CA, there are celebrations throughout the year, including Dinah Shore Weekend, the Coachella Music Festival, and tennis and golf tournaments. 

Some of the larger concert events are accompanied by after-parties, which draw people seeking more good times. Some are well-publicized, while others are more exclusive. Ask your passengers if they know of any. These events can extend the peak driving period that night by several hours. 


The last few weeks before Christmas often see a dip in rideshare requests. People are spending time at home getting ready for the holidays. New Year’s Eve, though, is often a rideshare driver’s biggest night. Super Bowl Sunday and St. Patrick’s Day prompt lots of demand for rideshare, too. 

Bad weather

Some rideshare drivers don’t like to go out in the rain. That means fewer rideshare drivers to compete against, and grateful passengers more apt to tip. Check your windshield wipers and get out there when it’s raining. 

Other tips for earning more

Being at the right place at the right time is only part of what you need to be a top rideshare earner. Here are some other tips so that you can take advantage of general peak times for driving Uber and Lyft.

Be a peripheral driver

A problem with large events is that the crowds and demand are so great that rideshare drivers report spending inordinate amounts of time in giant traffic jams. Many drivers don’t earn that much more than a regular night, even with the bonuses offered by Lyft and Uber. 

“The Coachella Music Festival is in Indio, twenty-five miles from Palm Springs,” a Lyft XL driver said. “Many large groups of kids rent Airbnb homes near the festival in gated communities, but you spend hours in the congestion, only to go a few miles. It’s often bumper to bumper for 45 minutes to pick up a ride. I found much better earnings hanging around downtown Palm Springs, picking up larger groups there, and transporting them to the festival. At the end of the night, I hang out on the periphery of the traffic jam with my app off and follow the large tour buses that are leaving. I turn on my app when the buses drop off passengers in empty parking lots. Folks still need a ride from there, and that’s when I pick them up. I don’t do the festival traffic jam. Even with bonuses, it’s a waste of time.”

Other drivers advise that they have good experiences cruising around the bars and restaurants surrounding sports stadiums, but they wait at least an hour after the game concludes. “People walk to a nearby bar after the game to wait out the traffic and have a drink,” said one driver. “After an hour or so, they’re ready to go home.”

Upgrade to a larger vehicle

If you own an SUV that holds six to eight passengers, holidays and special events are the night to take it out. The higher fares you command by driving Lyft XL or UberXL more than offset the extra money for gas. If you rent a car for rideshare, investigate the possibility of getting a larger car for special events. Reserve early, though, as many drivers have the same idea. 

Carry extra supplies

A downside of working rideshare at special events and weekend nights is picking up passengers who have been drinking. You risk a passenger misbehaving or getting sick in your car. Gridwise addressed this issue in a recent blog post, How To Deal With Drunk Uber Or Lyft Passengers. Brush up on your people skills for handling these types of passengers, and also carry an extra supply of emesis bags

Carry extra water, too. At outdoor events, spectators often don’t drink as much water as they should. Having a second case of water in your trunk makes you popular and earns you larger tips. Your preparedness can avert a few incidents of dehydration. 

Understand surge fares

If you drive weekend evenings and during weekday rush hour, then you are familiar with surge pricing. This is indicated on your app by heat overlays, showing areas where demand for rideshare exceeds the available drivers during the busiest Uber times, and Lyft, too. Surges can boost your earnings on a ride by 50% to 100%. But if you are more than a few minutes away from a surge area, think twice before chasing it. Surges are transitory. By the time you get there, they might be gone. 

The other approach is to take note of when and where you see surges. They often recur. If you find yourself in that area again, position yourself so that when the surge hits, you are in the middle of it. 

Update your rideshare apps regularly

This is one of the things they don’t tell you when you sign up to be a rideshare driver. Lyft and Uber regularly update the app to fix bugs and add new features. If you don’t update your rideshare app regularly, it will become slow and unresponsive. It can even quit working altogether. Update your apps at least once weekly, and before large events and heavy demand periods. You don’t want to miss maximum earnings because your app isn’t running at peak performance. 

Maintain several cash apps on your phone

When you get larger groups in your car, especially young people, they often agree to split the costs. One puts the rideshare on their bank card, while the other agrees to pay the tip. You can make third-party tipping much easier with a selection of cash apps on your phone. This happens more often than you may think. PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle are the most popular cash apps, according to The Balance, a personal finance website.  

Constantly experiment

High-earning rideshare drivers recognize that they don’t have all the answers about the best time for Uber or Lyft drivers. A Southern California rideshare driver confesses that he accidentally discovered Thirsty Thursday one evening when there was a large traffic accident on the major freeway he took home. He decided to hang around downtown Los Angeles for a few extra hours and was surprised by the volume of ride requests. 

“I added Thursday nights to my regular driving schedule,” he said, “and it has paid off.”

Gridwise can help

The best rideshare drivers with the highest earnings are always looking for an edge. That edge includes Gridwise. In addition to helping you find profitable times/places to drive, there is also the Gridwise blog, full of important information for gig drivers, including the latest strategies and tactics, how to save money on taxes and expenses, and news about the gig driving industry.

Gridwise also breaks down your earnings by time and location so you can see what strategies work the best!

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