Maximizing Earnings: Best Times to Drive


Working with companies like Uber and Lyft is fast becoming a lucrative source of income for many gig workers everywhere. In today’s gig economy, many self-starters view the possibility of working flexible hours while making good money as an attractive option that is too good to pass up.

But maximizing your earnings takes more than just signing up and driving for extended hours every day. With gas prices on the rise, it’s not always good to drive around aimlessly while searching for your next ride request. Instead, plan out your day and find the best time to drive to ensure maximum returns.

Finding The Best Time To Drive for Maximum Earnings

In a ridesharing gig, the amount you earn is tied directly to the number of passengers you get and the distance traveled for each. However, several factors can influence the fares you receive, including surge pricing, length of time between fares, and the distance you have to cover between those fares. All of these factors boil down to a single factor that can help maximize your earnings: knowing the best time to drive.

Busiest Times of Day

Understanding traffic patterns around the city can help you determine the best time to drive and find the most fares. For instance, according to a TomTom Traffic Index Report for the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2021, the busiest times to drive are between 7:00 and 9:00 in the morning and are the heaviest between 2:00 and 6:00 in the afternoon on weekdays. Meanwhile, the roads are the busiest between 12:00 and 6:00 in the afternoon on Saturdays and between 12:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon on Sundays.

By understanding the busiest times of the day, you will get a picture of when demand is at its highest. These are typically times of the day when people are commuting to and from work, going out to their favorite restaurants, or heading home from a night of fun. If you need to choose the best driving time, choose a time around these periods since demand will spike around these times.

Busiest Locations

Aside from finding the busiest times to drive, finding the busiest locations can also increase your earning potential. These are areas where you can generally expect the demand to be high, such as in the city center. Generally, the demand for fares will be highest near the city center and will gradually decrease the further you head out.

There are other fare-dense areas around the city, such as near the DFW Airport and around tourist attractions like Sundance Square and the World Aquarium. 

Busiest Days of the Year

Pay attention to days of the year when demand will spike. Seasonality is always a factor to consider when planning your route and will be affected by the weather and annual events. For instance, people will want to head to the beach between June and September, when it is the hottest. People are also busy around the holidays when doing Christmas shopping and attending social gatherings.

In order to maximize your earning potential, you should find out when the busiest days of the year are. Also, take note of holiday events, festivals, and conventions as these will undoubtedly attract the most people from out of town.

More Tips And Tricks To Maximize Your Earnings

There is no real guarantee on how much you make when it comes to being a rideshare driver. Even when you find out the best driving time, there is a high likelihood that other drivers will follow the same schedule, which means competition will be high. In order to maximize your earning potential, you will need to get creative. 

Plan Your Trips Effectively

Effective planning is an essential part of income management to ensure that you’re making the most out of every trip. For instance, traveling too far to pick up a passenger may not be worth it, especially if you have to travel an unreasonable distance for the return trip. 

Make the Most of App Features.

 Driver apps for certain companies carry helpful features that you can take advantage of to maximize your earnings, such as the driver destinations feature on Uber. This feature lets you set a destination and lets it know to only pick up passengers that are headed in your direction, such as when you’re on your way home. 

Pay Attention to Airport Queues. 

The airport is always a good area to pick up passengers as demand is usually high. However, the pick-up queues can also get quite long, which means more downtime between fares. So if you’re dropping off a passenger at the airport, make sure to take a look at the queue to know whether it’s worth it to wait for the next plane to arrive. Otherwise, you’re better off heading back to the city.

Take Advantage of Surge Fares

Rideshare companies always implement surge pricing for fares at different times during the day. This can happen during periods when the number of passengers requesting a driver is high, and the number of drivers is low. This can happen during the morning or evening rush, or even around 2:00 to 3:00 AM when bars close.

If you anticipate surge pricing in a particular area at a specific time, it is more helpful to just wait it out a few minutes before the anticipated time instead of driving around. While doing so, log out of the driver app and log back in when you think surge fares have been implemented. This reduces the number of drivers in that area detected by the system, contributing to the likelihood of surge fares while also eliminating the chances of you getting a request and missing out on surge pricing.

But Don’t Try to Chase Surge Fares

While it can be beneficial to take advantage of surge fares, it won’t be worth it if you’re racing to a particular location trying to chase them. For instance, if you anticipate a surge after an event but have to drop off a passenger at the airport, then it wouldn’t be worth it to race all the way back. It could be that by the time you reach the area, the surge pricing period will be over, or that the distance you have to cover is further than the trip you can book.

Don’t Waste Time and Gas Driving Around

As mentioned above, driving around aimlessly in an attempt to find your next passenger isn’t worth it, considering the gas prices today. And unless you’re using a rental, driving around will only add to more wear and tear to your vehicle, which contributes to depreciation, not to mention additional costs for maintenance. 

High-earners on Uber and Lyft recommend sticking to a central location while waiting for passengers to pick up. This helps you save on precious fuel while ensuring that any passenger looking for a ride is close to your general area. Remember that if you have to drive a good distance just to pick up a passenger, there is a good chance that your trip will end up being farther than their destination, which means you’ll be losing money on the entire trip.

Stick to a location that typically has a good number of potential passengers. And if you can, avoid suburban communities.

Use Passenger Apps to Your Advantage

Ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft, and Alto always use a driver app and a passenger app for their services. While driver apps are essential if you want to earn as a driver in these companies, you can also make use of the features on passenger apps to maximize your earning potential as a driver. 

For instance, passengers are able to see all the drivers that are in an area. You can take advantage of this feature to scope out a location and find places that are more free from any competition, increasing the likelihood of a fare.


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