I’ve tried renting out my truck (and my lifting skills) on Dolly, which you can read about here. Since that went pretty well, I decided to look into driving for Lyft. I have a Honda Jazz in the garage, which I rarely used. Instead of selling it, I thought about using it to drive for Lyft.
If you’re curious about ride-sharing, specifically, Lyft I’ll be sharing my experiences with the platform. Read on!
Lyft vs. Uber
This is a common question friends ask me when they find out I drive for Lyft. Uber seems to have won the top-of-mind game. Whenever people think about ride-sharing (whether as drivers or passengers) they think about Lyft. Fair enough, but I chose to drive for Lyft because of a few factors. They are:
- On Lyft, you can receive tips
- Lyft pays better - about 20% to 25% better
- Lyft has better Primetime (surge) pricing
- Lyft has a more laid back, but still professional, corporate culture
How much you earn will depend on factors such as location and the number of hours you drive (and whether you drive during peak hours). Lyft lifts (heh) two fees per ride: the Lyft Platform Fee, and the Service Fee. This is their commission for facilitating the service.
I’ve met a few drivers who do this full-time, so yes it is possible to make this a career. But it is difficult to do so and people who do usually drop out after a couple of years. (They actually use both Lyft and Uber to maximize their earnings) It also helps to be located in a large market like Manhattan.
Not everyone can become a Lyft driver. Here are their requirements:
- Own a smartphone with data plan
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Pass a DMV and criminal background check
- Meet certain state or city requirements
- Valid plates and registration
- Valid insurance with driver’s name on the policy
- Meets certain state or city requirements
- Passes Lyft’s 19-point inspection
If you’re up for the challenge if becoming a Lyft Driver, first you gotta check out their site and download the app into your phone. Follow these links:
Once you’ve started your application, Lyft will run the requisite backgrounds check to ensure you have a clean record. Once that’s done, you’ll have to subject your car to a 19-point inspection.
It seems like a lot to go through just to get approved, and it is. But it’s a necessary evil. You will literally be in charge of taking passenger safely to their destinations. So Lyft needs to ensure that you’re responsible and skilled enough for the job.
The Skills You’ll Need
Having the above requirements are just the bare minimum you’ll need to start, in my opinion. To thrive as a Lyft driver, you’ll also need the following skills:
1. Good Navigation Skills
Sure, Lyft has Lyft Navigation, which uses Google Maps. And there’s always good old Waze. But having deep knowledge of the streets in your city (and even beyond) is a major plus.
Take one of my recent trips as an example. Most of the roads leading to the passenger’s location were closed due to repairs. The funny thing is, my navigation app hadn’t picked up on the repairs yet. It would have made me go straight into the construction site. And my passenger didn’t bother to tell me about the repairs (it kind of sucks when passengers neglect to give important info like that, but what can you do?)
I saw the roadblocks from a mile away, and without prompting, started planning an alternate route. I wouldn’t have been able to go around the roadside repairs if I didn’t know the streets in the area.
If you’re not super-familiar with the roads in your city, set aside a day or two just for exploring. Concentrate on the main roads first, then go on to the side streets. You won’t be able to cover everything in a single weekend, but you’ll still be increasing your navigation skills considerable.
2. Good Physical Conditioning
I consider myself in relatively good physical shape (I’m a bricklayer, so I have to stay fit for the job), but my first day as a Lyft driver was extremely tiring. When I’m driving, my mind and body are working 110%. I’m constantly surveying the streets, checking my navigation app, and trying to ensure that my passenger has a safe trip. That’s hard work, both physically and mentally.
So on days off, I decided to work on my cardio a little bit and do some deep-breathing and relaxation exercises. These activities helped me build energy for my life on the road.
3. Good Social Skills
By good social skills, I don’t mean you have to be a complete social butterfly. I happen to hate small talk myself. By social skills, I mean being polite and making your driver feel safe and comfortable. When they enter the vehicle, greet them. When they’ve settled down ask them if they’re all set to leave. These are small things, but they make a big difference to the passenger. Since you two will be in the same confined space for a while, you might as well make it pleasant for everyone involved.
4. Patience towards passengers
This could fall under Good Social Skills, but I think it deserves its own space. Let’s face it: you will encounter your fair share of terrible passengers. You will find passengers who neglect to provide important info (see my first item), berate you for things that aren’t your fault, or are downright rude. It’s inevitable; that’s part of the job. When you get passengers like these, take a deep breath and count to ten.
Snapping at them or being rude in return will only make it worse for everyone. I’m not saying be passive and take their abuse (that’s something else altogether). But try to be patient and de-escalate the situation. You’ll be glad you did. And besides, you will rate them after the trip. So there is some justice, after all.
Common Issues and Challenges You’ll encounter
Problem-solving is another skill that would come in useful as a Lyft driver. That’s why I refer to problems as “issues” and also “challenges.” These things may make your day more difficult, but they’re things you need to overcome. Here are a few of the common ones:
1. Rude Passengers
I already mentioned this above, so no need to explain further.
2. Maintain a 4.8-star rating
This kind of reminds me of school. At the end of each trip, the passenger will give you a rating out of five stars (you will also rate them). You’ll have to maintain an average rating of 4.8 stars to keep driving.
If you dip below that amount, you may have to take a mandatory training course. If you still fail to make the grade, you risk having your account getting deactivated.
So be polite, and try to give the passenger as positive an experience as possible.
3. Vehicle maintenance
As a Lyft driver, there a big chance your car will pay for itself. I know a lot of drivers who get on Lyft to help offset their car payments. But you also have to consider costs such as vehicle maintenance and repairs.
All that driving takes its toll on a car. In just four months of driving for Lyft, I’ve put over 30,000 miles on my Honda Fit. That’s a lot of miles on a tiny car. I haven’t had to do any major repairs (yet) but I’m saving a set percentage of my earnings for car repairs and maintenance. If you get on Lyft, I suggest you do the same.
4. There is some danger involved
I’m not trying to be alarmist here, so don’t panic. But the reality is, you’ll be spending most of your days out on the road. The best way to minimize the risk is by staying alert at all times, and always striving to become a better, more responsible driver.
Lyft is a legit way to make a living! The work is hard and tiring, but it’s also rewarding. And you get to set your own schedule, which is a major plus for drivers who want to keep their day jobs.
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This review is based on my own experiences as a Lyft driver. Now it’s your turn to share! Do you drive for any other ride-sharing service? What was your experience like?
Let’s hear your stories!