[Update!] Identifying Hotspots: Knowing When and Where to Drive

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Any drivers out there remember driving circa 2012? Also known as the glory days of rideshare?

I, unfortunately, wasn’t driving back then, but I routinely hear veteran drivers talk fondly about how they could turn their app on from their kitchen and get ride requests in seconds.

Not just regular requests. We’re talking surges.

Well, for better or worse, the rideshare game has gotten a lot more difficult than that. Today drivers know that you can’t just turn your app on and expect to get flooded with ride requests.

Drivers for Uber, Lyft, Via and other TNC’s need to find the most profitable areas to drive and the most profitable times to drive. The question then becomes: how do you learn what spots in the city to spend your downtime that are likely to increase your chances of getting a ride request? Also, how do you know whether or not the spot you’re perched at is a “sweet spot”?

How do I find rideshare hot spots?

Figuring out where to drive isn’t rocket science, but you do have to understand a few things like your city, your driving style, and your city’s event schedule.


Know your city

When thinking about where to drive in your city, ask yourself this: What is the soul of your city? It can pay to know the events calendar in your area.

If you’re in Chicago you might say it’s the 2017 World Champion Cubs (Go Cubs!) and the nightlife in River North, Boys Town, and Wicker Park that comes alive in the summertime.

If you’re in D.C. you may consider the tourist-laden monuments, the always busy Museum circuit, or young and lively Dupont Circle.

Whether it’s local culture, college areas, or even just a bunch of hip bars, your city is known for something. These assumptions could be monumental in increasing the number of profitable drives that you make in a given amount of time.

If you’ve been living in a city for awhile, you should draw upon your own knowledge to find hot spots. What do you like to do? Where do you like to go out? Chances are that a lot of other people like to do pretty much the same things as you, so start off there.

You can also check Google and Yelp if you’re new to a city. For example, if your city is best known for its food, you can use Yelp to easily identify what’s getting the best reviews. This information can be used to direct your focus on the restaurants that draw the largest volume of clients. Similarly, you could use a Google Maps search to learn where the highest density of bars and restaurants are. That way, you know (for that moment and for the future) the area where a whole lot of people in your city are going to eat.

This train of thought is not only limited to restaurants, of course. Location scouting is an essential part of efficient time management as an Uber or Lyft driver. Know the most popular attractions for tourists and locals alike.

Learn about the city neighborhoods as well – especially the ones with the largest populations and foot traffic. Perhaps go a step further and learn about regular local events. The more you understand about the city you drive in, the easier it will become to strategically place yourself for your ideal rides.


Know what is going on in your city

There’s always something going on if you live in or near a city. Having a working knowledge of where the events are and when they occur can be extremely beneficial to your wallet. Some of the larger events can provide you with ample opportunities to pick up riders. Smaller events, while not as lucrative, can also still be good to know about in the long run (especially if they’re recurring).

Luckily, you don’t need to search the internet for a schedule of events around town. Gridwise will pull together a list of events going on around you along with their start times and projected ending times.

Predict surges

What’s the first rule every rideshare driver learns?

Don’t chase the surge. Predict them.

But how do you predict a surge? In particular, how do you predict a REAL surge that you’ll be able to actually get a few rides out of?

Think about when your city is most alive. For many, that is during the commuter hours of 5 am – 8 am and 4 pm – 7 pm. During those times you may see residential areas surging or business districts surging on a daily basis.

You can also talk with other drivers in the community to get a better sense of when they’re picking up rides. If you work in a college town, talk to the students you pick up. Do a bit of research into what the young folks are using Uber for. The information you gather will be useful for more than just college kids. Scenarios like coming back home from a night of drinking are extremely common not only in college areas but also throughout a city.


Know what type of driver you are

Another key to success is understanding what type of driver you are and when you can drive. If you are a part-time driver that works a late shift at your main gig, maybe those evening hours aren’t going to work for you.

Have kids? Maybe you need to be home to take them to school in the morning. This may seem painfully obvious, but part of creating a rideshare driver strategy is knowing your own schedule. There’s a niche for everyone, so take some time to understand where you would fit in.

To capitalize on your time, drive over to your city’s hotspots before demand peaks. For the spot with the best bang for your buck, you’re going to want to stay as still as possible. That is to say, you need to be in the center of where the highest demand is occurring.


Know when not to drive

Uber and Lyft don’t penalize you for being picky about what rides you choose to accept, so be picky!

Avoid areas with high amounts of traffic as much as possible. Not only are you wasting time and gas, but you are not maximizing your profit as drivers paid more by the mile than by the minute.

For the most part, traffic in a city is unavoidable. What you can do, however, is understand the places and times that really back up. Large events like football games and stadium concerts tend to bring immense amounts of traffic if you don’t get out early. To efficiently use your time as a rideshare driver, avoid heavy traffic and focus instead on the fares that best suit your schedule.

What are your preferred times/locations to drive? Let us know in the comments section!

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