Should Uber and Lyft drivers accept requests that are 10-15 minutes away?

Should you accept ride requests that are 10 to 15 minutes away? There are a lot of drivers who will accept whatever rides come in, and that’s totally fine. I think there are a lot of times where it pays to use smarter tactics that will help you earn more money.

Check out my video to see if you should accept requests that are more than 10 minutes away, then read the transcript below.

Why I don’t accept far requests

When you get a request on Uber, it gives you an estimated time of arrival. We have a really good video if you haven’t started driving yet on how to use the Uber driver app. One of the key things that they give you is the estimated time to arrive. It’s not perfect but it gives you general idea of where the passenger is and how far you have to drive to get them.

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I drive in the Los Angeles market which is pretty busy, and whenever I get a request that’s 10 to 12 minutes away or more, I’ll actually ignore that request. Uber’s new acceptance rate policy, as long as you’re not going for guarantees, allows you to miss as many requests as you want.

The reason why I do this though is because have a really good chance of getting a request within a few minutes that’s going to be a lot closer. Remember, they have that new deactivation policy so you don’t need to worry about your acceptance rate that unless you’re on guarantees.

What about smaller markets?

If you’re in a smaller market or you drive during times where it’s not nearly as busy, your strategy might be a bit different. But even if you’re in a smaller market you should still always be thinking about how far you’re willing to go to pick someone up. If you take every single request that comes in, there could be some requests that are very potentially going to lose you money if it’s very far and the rider is going a short distance. Remember that as soon as you get that request, all the time that you drive to pick up your rider is unpaid time.

Take your time to study requests before you accept

The other key thing that I don’t think a lot of drivers really take advantage of this that you have 10 seconds to accept request. What I do is when this request comes in, I actually really study the map. It doesn’t tell you exactly where they are, but you can get a good idea. You can see a big cross street or you can see where that passenger is going to be in a general area.

Where this comes in handy is: Let’s say I get a request at 11 p.m. and it’s 12 minutes away, and I can see that it’s in the bar area or near the main strip of bars. Should I take that request? Most of the time I’m probably going to ignore that request because I know that it’s probably someone going a short distance. Most often in those hours there’s that middle lull time where a lot of people are just bar hopping. Those are the short rides I want to avoid. I’d rather get a ride that’s 15 minutes or so, as opposed to someone that’s just going to short hop from bar to bar. That’s where it comes in handy and why you want to think about that ETA.

What can you do about minimum fare rides?

Where you can really get burned is when you drive 10 to 15 minutes to pick up a passenger and they do a minimum fare ride. There’s not a whole lot you can do about this. There are some black hat tactics some drivers will do in this situation. They’ll call the rider and ask them where they’re going. Personally, I’m not a fan of this strategy at all. I’m okay with pushing the limits and using some of these strategies but where I draw the line is where you start to do things like that and try to cherry-pick the rides and go beyond what Uber wants you to do. Personally, I’m not okay with doing that.

Related: Are drivers losing money on minimum fare rides?

Let’s say that they are 10 or 15 minutes away. I’m okay with calling that passenger and saying, “Hey, I just want to confirm that you want me to come all the way out there and pick you up because I am far away. You may be able to get a closer driver by re-requesting but I’m happy to do this ride.” Position it that way because you also don’t want to be driving out there and then the passenger cancels on you.

There’s not a whole lot you can do within the framework of the app to avoid those short rides. That’s where and why you need to think about it. Think about where they are and where they might be headed if it is going to be that long ETA ride. If you’re going to have to drive 10 or 15 minutes, you might do one out of the kindness of your heart here and there, but if you’re continually doing that and the rides are often short, you’re probably losing money.

Uber and Lyft are testing features to compensate drivers for long ETA rides

I’ve seen a handful of emails from Uber saying, “Hey, we noticed that you had a really long ETA pick up and then it was a short ride. We’re going to add a dollar or we’re going to add $2.” Which I think is a really cool feature. It would be nice to get some type of little boost for having to go out 10 to 15 minutes because frankly if a passenger lives way the heck out there, they should have to pay a little bit of a premium.

I also saw a screenshot from Lyft that Lyft is testing in some markets, too, a little primetime boost. I saw a screenshot that said, “We’re adding 25% to this ride.” Once the driver accepted, it said 25% for long ETA or something like that, and so that driver got a 25% boost on that ride because it was a farther pickup.

If you guys have seen anything or if you have any strategies to combat this, I definitely would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions and if you haven’t subscribed yet to the channel, definitely do that. We release new videos every single week and look forward to hearing from you. Take care.

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