Lyft is getting a lot of buzz in the media as an affordable and oh-so-hip alternative to taxi services, and as it expands into more and more US cities, lots of people looking for a side job are starting to consider driving for Lyft.
Is driving for Lyft it a good job? Is it worth it? Can you depend on driving for Lyft as a full-time job?
I’ve been driving for Lyft for 2 months in a brand new Lyft service area (Orange County, California), so I’m living the driver life right now. Ask me anything!
First off, Lyft promises these perks for drivers:
- Get paid up to $35/hour to drive your own car
- Easy online application
- Full-time support
- Flexible Hours
- Safe and secure: $1 million liability insurance policy
Does the real job measure up to the promise? For the most part, yes.
Application Process for Lyft Drivers
Completing the Lyft driver application is really easy, especially when compared to the annoyingly long applications required by most companies. All you really have to do is submit some basic personal information, then some photos of your car, drivers license, and personal auto insurance.
What about privacy and security? Submitting sensitive documents online like drivers licenses and auto insurance might feel like a risk, but having done it myself I can tell you that the whole process felt very safe and secure. All of the photo uploads were within the Lyft site, and I never had to email anyone about the specifics of my personal information.
It becomes a waiting game after you apply. Lyft says online that they try to call every applicant within a few days, but it can take weeks to be reached. When they do call you, the company rep conducts a simple and informal phone interview about your life and your interests. Easy stuff.
A trick that will help move your application closer to the front of the line: If Lyft hasn’t called you after about a week following your application, give the company a call and ask the rep what you can do to move the process along. Likely, they’ll conduct a phone interview right on the spot and tell you what to do next.
Scheduling your hours
One of the attractive things about driving for Lyft is that you get to set your own hours inside an online scheduler.
Here’s how you set your hours when you drive for Lyft.
- Set your personal preferences. (For instance: max/min hours per shift, split shift preferences, max/min hours per week)
- Click on the hours you’d like to work on the online scheduler
- On Fridays, Lyft sends you your approved hours.
- Either work the hours, or drop them at least 24 hours in advance without consequence to your “reliability” rating.
Lyft Driver Pay
The basic pay formula is: You keep 80 percent of passenger fares/donations, Lyft gets the other 20 percent. Fares are calculated on ride time and ride distance, and Lyft claims that rides are roughly 30 percent cheaper than a cab.
But there’s a complication: The new city hourly wage, or “floor.”
If there isn’t huge customer demand in new service areas, you may go hours without getting a customer. Lyft wants to give you an incentive to stay on the road, so they pay you a $15/hour floor wage just to be on the clock. That way, you’re not on the road without pay and potential customers can see that there are always plenty of drivers nearby if they ever need one.
Here’s how the floor works: If your total pay from rider fares doesn’t exceed $15 in one hour, you get paid the $15. But if your fares exceed $15, you get that amount instead.
Examples of the hourly floor on the job:
- You work for an hour and get zero rides. Lyft will pay you $15
- You work for an hour and get one ride that pays you $5. Lyft will pay you $15
- You work for an hour and get a few rides totaling $28. Lyft will pay you $28.
It’s a really great system for drivers because you can go on long stretches without rides, and still get paid. That’s what I like to call “the best job ever.”
Can driving for Lyft be your full-time job?
Driving full-time depends on the customer demand in your area, and the supply of drivers.
Most of the advertising that Lyft sends out to drivers says that this job is intended to be part time gig for supplemental income. They don’t promise 40+ hour workweeks or yearly incomes, yet many of the drivers I have met hope to make Lyft their full-time job.
Driving for Lyft full-time is not something you should expect because Lyft likes to hire many drivers to cover each area, and they hand out hours according to local customer demand. If there are many drivers and not too much demand, they are only going to give each driver a handful of hours each week, typically less than 20.
In slower times, I was approved to drive for only 2 hours of 15 hours, and many other drivers I speak with have reported the same thing.
In busy areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles, some drivers have been able to make Lyft their full-time job because customer demand his so high, but I think that’s unusual for the most part.
Safety and Security. Is it safe to drive for Lyft?
Is driving for Lyft safe? Everyone asks me about safety, and it’s one of the first questions that Lyft addresses on their site. There are plenty of stories floating around about cab drivers who are assaulted and harassed, so people figure that Lyft drivers might be victims of the same kind of abuse.
There are several major distinctions that make driving for lyft much safer than driving a cab:
- All Lyft rides are arranged through the Lyft app. You can’t be hailed by any random stranger from the street.
- All Lyft users must have a public Facebook account, and are rated by drivers
- No cash is involved — all payment is electronic.
The person requesting your ride will have a name, a face, and a rating that you can see right within the app, so riders are accountable for their behavior. If a rider acts out of line at all, Lyft can remove them from the service.
But abuse does happen and, not surprisingly, alcohol is involved in almost every horror-story I’ve heard. Stories of Lyft driver abuse usually go like this: A drunken passenger harasses the driver, calls them names, maybe raises their voice or damages the inside of the driver’s car.
When that happens, you as a driver can end the ride immediately and ask the rider to leave your car. If you feel unsafe, call the cops.
And if your car is ever damaged by a passenger, all you have to do is mail a damage estimate to customer support and Lyft will supposedly reimburse you in full. I can’t verify that claim with any personal experiences, but I don’t have any reason not to take Lyft’s word on it.
Try searching around online for instances of violence toward Lyft drivers and you won’t find any! I tried.
Should You Drive For Lyft?
Yes! The application process is fast and easy, the pay is fair, the job is fun, the hours are flexible. There are hardly any downsides at all. The only complaint you’ll hear from drivers: “I don’t get enough hours! I want to drive more!”