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Tuesday, July 14

More Uber Lessons Learned from my first Weekend as a Driver - Part 2

On Saturday, my third day as an Uber driver, I got smarter, but only a little.  My unpaid miles as a percentage of total miles driven was better than Friday, but I still was only paid for 50% of the miles driven.  This has to improve.  My payout was only $117, and I was on the road for 8.5 hours.  I earned $23 in tips from 4 of my 17 fares (two of the 17 were cancellations, but I received a small amount on those since they were canceled after I reached the pickup spot).

I didn't begin until 3:30 PM.  We spent the morning at IKEA ordering kitchen cabinets, so I turned on the app around 3 PM.  I really like beginning my day with whatever fare pings me from my house.  Three of my first four fares were very productive, and little time or miles was wasted (one of the four was a rider cancel, but I still received a small fare since he didn't cancel until I got to his pickup spot).

After the fourth fare, which had taken me from downtown St. Pete to South Tampa, I turned off the app and returned to the peninsula.  It was raining, and I still don't want to waste time trying to learn the streets of Tampa.  Once I made it back to Pinellas County (by now it was 6 PM), it was non-stop activity until just before midnight.  The entire night was a blur, and most of my trips were short.  I spent almost the entire night on Clearwater Beach, and the typical trip was picking up guests from a hotel and dropping them off at a restaurant.  Three of my fares were less than a mile.  It probably would have been faster for the passengers to walk since traffic on the beach was so heavy.  There was a concert at the Capitol Theater, and I had both a dropoff before the concert and a pickup afterwards.  The pickup was a fare to South Tampa.  I like those long rides, but the girls were rowdy and flirtatious.  One of the girls kept rubbing my shoulders, which was weird since I was at least 15 years older than them and was trying to focus on the road.  I still don't know the South Tampa area, so I turned off the app as soon as I dropped them off.  I turned it back on when I was getting off the Interstate, and of course I got pinged.  A drunk guy at a hotel wanted to take his first Uber ride.  He was from Dallas and was looking for a club to continue partying.  He was alone, celebrating his 40th birthday.  I sort of felt bad for the guy, but he was really nice so it made it easier.  He was flirting with me too, but it was easy to ignore him by changing the subject whenever he suggested I clock out and hang out with him.  I'm quickly learning that drunk people do some weird things.

One of the annoying things with Uber is that the passengers aren't always ready to be picked up, and they don't always enter the correct pickup address.  My last fare, which was a paid cancellation, entered her destination as the pickup spot.  Fortunately, I was two blocks away, and it was in the direction I was headed to go home.  When I called the girl, she was at a bar on the beach, half an hour away.  Her speech was slurred and I feel bad for whoever ended up picking her up.  I told her she screwed up (politely, of course) and then canceled her ride.  The fact that passengers aren't always ready is also annoying.  One lady made me wait 15 minutes.  She gave me permission to start the clock though so I was getting paid while I waited for her.

I feel like I know the Uber app well now.  I am quickly learning the streets of Clearwater Beach, including the short cuts and popular restaurants locations.  It's nice when the passenger's destination is a familiar place and I don't need to use GPS.  Still, I'm not sure how to cut down on unpaid miles unless I keep the app running when I make dropoffs in Tampa instead of rushing back to the beach.


  1. 50% paid vs. unpaid miles is hard to make the numbers work, but lowering that percentage by a meaningful amount will be difficult. Looking forward to your ongoing thoughts and numbers on Uber. Can you watch the Uber rides without being logged on? Maybe get an idea of the most profitable hours for your area. Sorry, just thinking outloud.

    1. So far I haven't had much luck getting it under 50%. Seems like all I would need to do is park near the last dropoff and wait, but then I end up wasting time if I'm in a slow area. I have to be logged on to see what's going on in real-time, but I do receive a weekly email that shows the busiest hours of the prior week.