Through the Lens of Pittsburgh Rideshare Drivers – Jeff Altman

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Background

Name: Jeff Altman

Driving for: 6 months

TNC Services: Uber (X and XL) and Lyft

Driving Commitment: Full-time (40-50 hrs/week)

Important Metrics:I base my driving mainly off of earnings. In order to pay the bills, I usually have to put in at least 40 hours.”


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Experience and Strategy

What are some strategies you try to use?

I was experimenting at first with different strategies – working late and working long hours. Lately, I’ve been focusing on early mornings for rush hour, late afternoon and early evening. This is mainly for during the week/ during the weekends, I drive pretty much anytime. Of course, evening and bar closing are the busiest. To be honest, I’ve been trying to avoid bar closing hours a bit and instead focus on [fares] during the day.

The areas I drive are pretty much wherever [Uber] takes me. I live in East Liberty, so a lot of times I’ll start there. It’ll sometimes even surge in the mornings right outside of my apartment, which is nice because I can usually get a ride from there. I do a lot of drives in Oakland and just around town, but sometimes Uber or Lyft will take me out to the airport. It can even take me as far as Whitehall sometimes.

What’s the longest drive you’ve had to make?

I haven’t really gone too far; I haven’t really been driving for too long. The farthest I’ve gone is Pittsburgh to Cranberry or the airport. Sometimes I go to the south of Pittsburgh, like around Bridgeville or Crafton. I haven’t gotten anything like 3 or 4 hours long or anything like that.

When it takes you out to someplace random, do you usually try to get back to an area of focus?

When I started, I would stress a lot about being in [high demand] areas and trying to catch surges. Lately, I’ve been taking fares in a little bit more of a relaxed way. A lot of times, if I end up somewhere random, I’ll maybe just turn off the car and rest for a few minutes while I’m waiting for a ping. Then if I still don’t get anything, then I’ll head back in toward town. It really just depends on the situation and how long I’ve been driving.

Would you say you follow general trends for different times of day?

During the week, the afternoons in town aren’t really busy. Thursdays and Fridays are better than Monday-Wednesday, but I still think the weekends are better for afternoons. Sometimes I’ll even go home for a couple of hours to relax before going back out. I’ll usually start a little early, like 6 or 6:30 in the morning when all of the surges begin. Ideally, I’d like to start a bit earlier than that, but I tend to sleep in.

Are you on your own when you’re working, or are you a part of a driver group?

I have done some participation in driver groups, but then I took a few weeks when I wasn’t driving at all. I do have a couple of friends who drive; sometimes I’ll text them, but I haven’t done that lately.

I was in a group on Zello for a while. I’m thinking about getting back into that. Drivers will get on there, and mention the things that they’re seeing if there’s an accident on the road or something. Some of them will get on and just briefly say where they’re doing pickup and where they’re headed. I think that’s pretty helpful because otherwise, you’re in a vacuum. It’s better to know what’s going on from other drivers.

Pittsburgh Driver Resources

Do you use Gridwise?

Yes. I found out, I believe, on Facebook through one of the posts on a Pittsburgh [rideshare driver] group.

What Gridwise features do you use most at this time?

Right now I get the text alerts for when the games are getting close to over and stuff like that. I get the emails, and I’ll usually look through them to put events on my calendar. I’m looking forward to receiving more stats for when I do go out to the Airport. I want to have that sort of real-time information.

The text alerts are helpful. I like getting reminders that the game’s about to end or if it’s going into overtime. It’s also great for knowing when concerts are getting out.

Any other resources that you use?

[Rideshare driving] is kind of a process of trial and error, but I’ve learned too from other drivers. The one guy in Atlanta, who runs The Simple Driver. I find that he has a lot of very detailed videos and such on his website, so I learn a lot from them. I also use a bunch of other resources, of course, but I like how detail-oriented The Simple Driver is.


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