The State of Rideshare in 2019: How Much are Drivers Really Making

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There’s no question that 2018 was a year to remember for rideshare drivers.

But when we think about 2018, should we remember it as a year where drivers earned more than ever, or the year when drivers said goodbye to surge as we know it?

Should we think about the effort that Dara Khosrowshahi made to reach out to drivers, or should we think about the fact that Uber Pool is still largely unpopular (and unprofitable) when we think about 2018?

Well, in a year when the term “fake news” has been thrown around more than a few times, we thought the best way to figure out how we should remember 2018, and think about 2019, is to start with the facts.

So in this report, we’re going to give you a complete rundown of the facts.

We’re going to look at how much drivers have been earning across the United States, what services they’ve been using, how they have found success, what their most profitable hotspots were, and much much more.

Let’s dive in by looking at 4 key takeaways from this report.

4 Key Takeaways From This Report

Takeaway #1: Drivers made on average $18.65 per hour in 2018

Takeaway #2: Drivers made on average $1.33 per mile in 2018

Takeaway #3: Drivers that are using 2 or more services are making $1.05 more per hour

Takeaway #4: Nearly 40% of drivers said their most lucrative driving venues were airports

How we built this report

Rideshare drivers log 10,000’s of miles per day and track $10,000’s per week using Gridwise. So for our earnings reports, we look at the anonymized driving statistics for drivers in a number of markets. For the purposes of this report, we have analyzed the earnings and mileage of over 30,000 drivers in various markets across the United States.

Because of our data collecting methodology, our earnings reports are far more accurate than any driver earnings surveysavailable as drivers log their trips & earnings on Gridwise as they drive multiple times per week. So not only are the reported earnings accurate, but drivers don’t cherry pick their best or worse days to show us. This gives us the most realistic view of how much drivers are really making over time.

This report also includes qualitative driver information that we have received from a survey of over  180 rideshare drivers across the United States.

The Results

Driver Earnings – Per Hour

Across the United States, drivers generally made an average of $18.65 per hour in 2019 before expenses. However, earnings are heavily affected by the city where you drive.

Earnings Per Hour Across The US

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Earnings Per Hour: Pittsburgh

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Earnings Per Hour: Chicago

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Earnings Per Hour: D.C.

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Earnings Per Hour: Baltimore

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Driver Earnings – Per Mile

This year, we’re also measuring earnings per mile, and in 2019 rideshare drivers across the United States made an average of $1.33 per mile before expenses. Again, earnings are heavily affected by the city where you drive.

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Earnings Per Mile: Pittsburgh

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Earnings Per Mile Chicago

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Earnings Per Mile: DC

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Earnings Per Mile Baltimore

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Bad weather matters…

Inclement weather does play a role in overall earnings per hour, but it appears that in the winter months this difference is much more pronounced. As you can see below, earnings per hour in inclement weather are about the same as earnings per hour in non-inclement weather except for January and February.

Inclement Weather vs Non-Inclement Weather Earnings Across the Nation

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It pays to drive with multiple TNC’s

Our data shows that one of the most important factors in profitability for rideshare drivers is the number of TNC’s that a driver drives for. Across the US, we observed drivers making more while driving for at least two rideshare companies.

Earnings Per Hour When Driving for a single TNC vs Multiple TNC’s Across The US

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Only about half of rideshare drivers have dedicated rideshare insurance

Insurance remains a big question for rideshare drivers going into 2019 as almost half of drivers don’t have dedicated rideshare insurance and thus, may not be fully covered.

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Most rideshare drivers are giving goodies away

Services like Cargo are repopularizing the idea of having snacks and goodies available for riders as a way to increase tips and boost ratings. It appears that many drivers are using goodies as giveaways in some form.

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The most lucrative place to drive in 2018 was airports

It appears that airports were their most lucrative venue in 2018 for rideshare drivers with Night Events being second, and surprisingly, suburbs coming in 3rd.

This could be a sign that rideshare companies are beginning to have more and more widespread adoption outside of big cities which is allowing drivers to expand their footprint outside of popular downtown and bar areas.

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Overall, about half of drivers were satisfied with their experience as a driver in 2018

For the most part, drivers were satisfied with their experiences as drivers in 2018.

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But more than half of drivers are very dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied with their Uber Pool Experience.

However, drivers continue to be extremely dissatisfied with their experience with both Uber Pool and Lyft Line. This is a glaring issue that the rideshare companies will need to work on with drivers as they push these services more and more.

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Now that we’ve reviewed what happened in 2018, let’s look forward to 2019 and understand what changes rideshare drivers can expect.

Lyft will exceed 35% market share

While both Uber and Lyft are growing quickly, Lyft is reportedly growing twice as fast as Uber and cutting into Uber’s market share. In 2019, expect Lyft to continue to grow faster than Uber and reach 35% market share in the US.

Why does this matter to rideshare drivers?

More riders on Lyft means that more and more drivers are going to need at the very least have Lyft as a secondary platform, if not their main platform.

Uber delays their IPO to 2020

One surprising effect of the longest government shutdown in US history is that the IPOs of both Uber and Lyft may be delayed to 2020.

You see, because of the shutdown the SEC is unable to provide feedback and approval on filings that issuers need to move their registration statements forward. In other words, the government shutdown is slowing down IPOs enough to push Uber’s offering to 2020.

Why does this matter to rideshare drivers?

It’s not completely clear how a rideshare IPO will affect drivers, but many industry experts believe that by going public, there will be more pressure on services to increase profitability and thus, take more money for every ride. This, of course, will take money from the pockets of drivers.

Without an IPO there will be less investor pressure for rideshare companies to reach profitability which should be good for drivers.

Government regulations will slow the growth of self-driving cars

Self-driving cars had an up and down 2018, but they will continue to press forward in 2019. Expect ridesharing companies like Waymo to do their best to rapidly expand their fleet of self-driving ridehailing vehicles.

However, you can also expect government regulations to slow the growth of the self-driving car business in 2019 as safety concerns stemming from high profile accidents in 2018 will continue.

Why does this matter to rideshare drivers?

Many people believe the days of rideshare drivers are numbered because of self driving cars. However, 2019 will prove once again that rideshare drivers are going to be around for the long haul as we see how far self driving cars have to go to become mainstream.

We will see more and more regional rideshare service, providers

In 2018 we saw the launch of multiple regional rideshare service providers including Jayride for airport trips, Safr for women, SpotOn for pet lovers, and a Dallas based rideshare company called Alto.

In 2019, expect to see more of these regional and market specific rideshare services to pop up that are servicing a very unique market and clientel.

Why does this matter for drivers?

More driving services mean more apps that drivers will need to know about and juggle to ensure profitability. Keeping up with these new services will be a new challenge for rideshare drivers in 2019.

Drivers: Take Action

Now that we know how much the average driver is making and have an idea as to why, we can look at how drivers can stay ahead of the curve.

Drive for Multiple TNC’s

The number of TNC’s that you drive for clearly matters. If you’re just driving for Uber, Lyft, Via, or Juno, you are missing out on income. So do yourself a favor and sign up for another TNC and start driving! You’ll also likely be eligible for a nice bonus as well.

Monitor your performance

As we saw time and time again when reviewing these figures, keeping up with what’s happening in your city and your driving performance is paramount.

It is very difficult to be a profitable driver if you don’t have a keen understanding of where to drive in your city and when to drive in your city. New drivers can use Gridwise to help them immediately understand their city while also taking cues from blogs like this one, along with city-specific Facebook groups and forums like UberForum.

Items for our next report

We’re going to do continue to improve these reports as we grow. For our next release, we plan to include:

  • Earnings per trip
  • Earnings per shift

Let us know if there is anything else that you would like to see in future reports.

Now we’re curious, are you seeing earnings in line with these various reports? What do you think is the biggest factor in your earnings success? Let us know in the comments below!

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