Should drivers stay in one place or drive around while waiting for pings?

Should drivers stay in one place, or move around? It’s a pretty fundamental strategy question, so I think a quick video will be really helpful. Take a look at the video, then read the transcript below and leave a commment.

From taking a lot of rides as an Uber passenger, I’ve noticed that as soon as I get dropped off, my driver takes off down the block. I never really thought much about this until the other day I just started thinking about what do I do when I drive. When I’m driving, I drop someone off and then I pull down the street a little. I don’t like to sit right in front of their house because that’s a little bit creepy, but I usually just pull right down the block and park. What I’ve noticed though is that almost every single time I get dropped off as an Uber passenger is that drivers drive away and take off. I have no idea where they’re going, but they leave.

Staying in place makes more sense – but why?

If you have a next trip request on Uber or Lyft, then you’re going to want to go and fulfill those rides. I’m not talking about those rides. I’m talking about rides where you drop off a passenger and you’re waiting for a request. In those situations, I don’t think it actually makes a lot of sense to leave where you’re at. The reason is because it costs you money to drive around. Every time that you’re moving without a passenger in the car, you’re losing money. These are miles that you actually don’t want to put on your car since you’re not getting paid for those miles.

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The only time I try to drive around empty is when I’m repositioning myself, or if I have to. The thing you really want to keep in mind is that all miles when you don’t have a passenger in your car you’re actually losing money due to the cost of gas and the cost of depreciation on your vehicle.

How to reposition yourself effectively

The only time I’ll actually drive around is to reposition myself when I’m without a passenger. If it’s a Friday, Saturday night I might only wait a few minutes if I don’t have a request yet. Then I’ll think about repositioning myself. I might pull up the Uber passenger app and look to see where the closest drivers are, and how close I am to busy areas. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense though to just drive around aimlessly and look for rides. If your wheels are moving and you don’t have a passenger, it should be to put yourself in a position where you can get a better chance of getting a ride. Now, on a weekday, I might wait a little bit longer because average wait times in between trips are longer on the weekdays. I drop someone off, and I’m going to sit there just a few minutes longer.

The way I like to think about it is sort of like a math problem. A simple one, don’t worry. After you drop off a passenger, think about, “What are my chances of getting a ride?” The only time it would actually make sense to move is if you can increase your chances of getting a ride. If you drop someone off and you’re like, “Hey, I’m going to go drive somewhere else just because I want to get away from where I dropped off,” that doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you’re moving to an area where you’re going to have a better chance of getting a ride. Let’s say you drop off someone in a more residential area. Your odds may not be super likely that you’re going to get a ride there. Honestly I might still wait a few minutes in that situation and then I’ll look at the map, see maybe where hey, there’s a few restaurants or a few bars nearby. I reposition myself to there. That way you can make these calculated moves, because  you really want to minimize those miles that you’re driving without a passenger.

Hopefully that makes a lot of sense to you guys. I haven’t seen any evidence that the Uber or Lyft app prioritizes cars who are moving, so it doesn’t necessarily help yourself to be moving. You might still get a request just as easily if you’re sitting still or parked.

I hope you guys keep this in mind going forward. I’d love to hear about your experience. What do you do when you drop off a passenger? I’m assuming that a lot of you actually just keep going, and if you are, I’d love to know why. Maybe there’s a strategy I’m missing, or maybe there’s something I’m not thinking about. Feel free to like, comment, subscribe to the channel. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out. Take care.

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