Driving Uber In Big Vs Small City – San Francisco vs Minneapolis

Do drivers in small cities need to use different strategies than drivers in big cities? We’re going to talk about the differences in driving when you’re in a big market versus a small market.

Jay Cradeur, who’s in San Francisco and Joe, who is in Minneapolis share with you some of the similarities and the differences between driving styles. And stick around because at the end of the video I’ll share with you what are the two biggest differences in driving big market versus small market.

I’m Jay Cradeur with the Ride Share Guy, and today we’re gonna look at five areas, and we’re gonna compare and contrast driving in a big market versus driving in a small market, so let’s get started.

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The Lyft weekly ride challenge in a big vs small city

The first topic is the new weekly ride challenge bonus, which Lyft is now offering (Read about the Lyft Ride Challenge here). Both Joe and I drive primarily for Lyft. And since this new bonus came out, it has changed my driving during the day dramatically. I used to drive in the morning, say from 5:00 until about noon. Then I’d take a break in the middle of the day, and then I would drive again from 5:00 until 7:00, all because I had to get those peak hours. Now with the new bonus, I could just drive straight on through, I feel a lot less stress, much more relaxed because I can just drive and knock off at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, sometimes I drop off at noon.

Now we’re going to go to Joe. Joe, how’s this new weekly ride bonus impacted your driving?

Joe: Thanks Jay. The weekly ride challenge has not affected my driving too much. It just makes things a lot more stress free. Under the power driver bonus you had to maintain a 90% acceptance rate and also drive those peak hours during those specific hours. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. So it’s a lot more stress free. I can drive whenever I want to, although I do still try to maintain and hit those AM peak hours, especially when you can get your vast majority of rides during those times. I no longer need to achieve a certain amount of peak rides, but I drive during those peak hours because that’s when the most ride requests happen. And driving during those hours will get me to that weekly ride challenge tier, that ride tier quicker than the off hours.

Has the removal of the acceptance rating requirement for bonuses changed the way you drive?

Jay Cradeur: Great. Thanks Joe. Topic number two is the removal of the 90% acceptance rate requirement for the bonus. Now, this hasn’t made much of a difference in my driving style. I always got around 95%, that’s my average acceptance rate. I accept almost every ride that I get. The only time I decline is during the morning or the afternoon rush hours where I wanna get a bunch of short rides, and I don’t wanna be taken outside of the city.

So that’s still the same. That hasn’t changed. What about you, Joe?

Joe: So this is one of the main differences between San Francisco and Minneapolis. When under the power driver bonus I was maintaining right around a 90% acceptance rate, because here in Minneapolis it’s not as dense as San Francisco. We’ll get ride requests, especially when we’re just outside of downtown or sometimes even when we are downtown during the busiest times, the AM commute, we’ll get requests from 15 minutes away. And you don’t want those requests.

So under the power driver bonus, I would decline those requests, and then I’d be worried about needing to maintain that 90% acceptance rate, sometimes I would even accept requests and then call the passenger and say, “Hey, you may just wanna re-request.” And if they cancel, then that doesn’t affect my acceptance rate.

So not needing to maintain that 90% acceptance rate has been pretty big for me here in Minneapolis. And my acceptance rate has hovered right about 65 to 75%. Last week I think it was around 80%. But there are still quite a few requests that I will decline.

Destination filters: Big vs small cities

Jay Cradeur: Our third topic is destination filters. So here in San Francisco, I use all my destination filters almost every single day. And I use them not only at the end of my shift to make sure I get some rides home, but during the middle of the day I use them so I can get longer rides when the traffic is light. I like to get longer rides. And I often do. So it’s easier here in the big market to get a lot of long rides using the destination filter going up and down, north and south. How about for you, Joe?

Joe: So I love the destination filter, but I don’t get as many destination rides here in Minneapolis compared to Jay in San Francisco. I will use the destination filter, especially when I wanna head home for the day. And I’ll usually get a couple rides. I typically wanna just use Lyft because I’m trying to get that weekly ride challenge bonus, a Lyft ride to me is worth more than an Uber ride. But sometimes if I’m on the outskirts, say in the suburbs and I wanna get home urgently, or I wanna make sure I can get a destination ride, I will log into both Uber and Lyft in destination mode simultaneously.

The strategy behind long and short rides in big cities vs small cities

Jay Cradeur: Thanks Joe. Now number four is making the distinction between long rides versus short rides. So here in San Francisco this distinction is really important, because I need to get a lot of short rides during the prime time hours; in the morning, from 7:00 until about 10:00. Beause I can get a lot of rides because I got a lot of people going to work. I don’t wanna take long rides during that time.

But then once I get to about 10:00 ’til about 3:00 in the afternoon, I want long rides. So I’m really going for the long rides there, and that’s where I’m using the destination filter. How about you Joe? What kinda distinction do you draw between the long rides and the short ride?

Joe: So I’m a lot like Jay, I like those short rides during the peak hours, I’ll do the long rides during the off hours. But I will also accept long rides during those peak hours. Sometimes I’ll accept airport trips, my heavy driving days are Mondays and Tuesdays, so those are heavy airport days. So if I get a trip to the airport, I’ll typically get one from the airport. And that will take probably about 30, 45 minutes in order to complete those two trips, which isn’t too bad.

But sometimes I will employ Jay’s strategy of canceling a long ride during peak hours, especially if I know it’s gonna take me out of downtown when it’s really busy. I don’t want that. I will cancel those rides sometimes. It was really nice when Lyft would give us that estimated ride time feature, when that was in place. Because then I could just decline that request right off the bat, instead of arriving at the location and canceling.

Related: Do long or short rides make more money?

Airport strategies in big cities vs small cities

Jay Cradeur: Now our fifth and final area to cover is airport protocol. What we’re calling airport protocol. So how do you handle the airport? So in San Francisco, I never, ever, ever wait in the staging lot for a ride. As you know, if you drive with a passenger to the airport, if there is a passenger that needs to get picked up, they call this reassign. They’ll assign you somebody and they’ll bypass the staging lot and give you that passenger right away.

If I don’t get that passenger, I do not wait. I always head back to the city within about 12 minutes I can be back in San Francisco getting another ride. How about you, Joe?

Joe: So here in Minneapolis I will wait in that airport cue. My big driving days, again, are Mondays and Tuesdays. And those are heavy travel days, so the airport’s pretty busy. I’ve found that when I go to the cue, I typically don’t have to wait more than 15 minutes until I get my next request. So it wouldn’t make sense to deadhead back to Minneapolis or Saint Paul, which would be a 15 minute ride. It just makes senses to stay there right at the airport.

I do get rematched from the airport occasionally, I’d say maybe 5 to 10% of the time that I drop someone off at the airport. But for the most part it just makes sense once you drop someone off at the airport here, just go wait in that staging lot. Especially on Mondays and Tuesdays, you shouldn’t have to wait long to get another ride.

Related: Are airport trips worth it for drivers?

What are the two biggest differences in driving strategies?

Jay Cradeur: In summary, the two biggest areas where we make a distinction here is in the destination filters, where I use mine a lot and Joe doesn’t use his so much. And at the airport, where Joe will wait for a ride in the staging lot, and I never do in San Francisco.

Is there anything we missed? If there is, leave a comment. We’d love to hear what you think. I want to thank you for watching the video, if you haven’t subscribed yet to the YouTube channel for The Rideshare Guy, by all means subscribe. That way you’ll be kept up to date on all the videos that come out regarding anything to deal with rideshare driving in this gig economy.

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