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Wednesday, July 22

Getting Smarter Driving for Uber, but Productive Miles are Low

I continue to drive for Uber, mostly because I went all-in by purchasing another car and am now stuck with it.  It will be interesting to see whether I earn any real income doing this, or if my pay is simply a cashing-out on the depreciation for my car.  If my driving really costs what the IRS says, then I absolutely will NOT report any income from driving for Uber.

The problem with Uber is the unpaid miles between trips.  It's not that I am driving around aimlessly.  Usually I will drop off a passenger and immediately find a shady area to park the car.  The majority of the unpaid miles are incurred after I have accepted a "ping" and am driving to my passenger's pickup spot.  For example, in the late afternoons in Pinellas County there are fewer Uber drivers on the roads, which means I have more requests from further away.  I've been taking a break in the afternoons and turning the app back on between 3-5 PM.  Today, my first pickup was at Largo Mall, 5 miles from my house.  The passengers were going to their home two miles away.  I drove 7 miles, but was only paid for 2.  As I was leaving, another passenger requested a ride.  She was 4 miles away.  Her destination:  .63 miles away.  I received the $4 minimum fare, which was only $2.40 after Uber took its cut.  Basically a 5 mile drive for $2.40.  My next fare was 6 miles away, and after driving halfway in rush-hour traffic, the rider canceled the request.  Since I live in the most densely populated county in the third highest populated state in the U.S., I have to believe my situation is reflective of Uber drivers everywhere.

Now I have to decide whether I should curtail my hours to peak periods only.  For a few hours each morning, and most of the day Friday and Saturday, I receive continuous ride requests and can maximize my paid miles.  If I really am losing money with these unpaid miles, I will have to focus only on periods of high demand.


  1. They used to have a $4 minimum here, but raised it to $5. I didn't realize some places still had the $4 minimum. The $5 minimum is already low enough.

    Do you have guarantees on Friday and Saturday nights there? I'm thinking of working the guaranteed hours so I know I'll make at least the guaranteed amount.

    1. I've read about guarantees on driver forums, but we do not have them here. Last week I worked 51 hours and my gross pay was $11.44/hour. Any guarantee allowing me to earn more than that would affect the hours I work for Uber.