Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland

Lyft announced last week that they are adjusting the Western Maryland driver pay rates. They were increasing the per minute amount by 65 percent and decreasing the per mile amount by 16 percent.

Without even doing the math, I approved of these new driver pay rates. I’ve always believed the per minute amount was far too low. I routinely have passengers who want to make a “quick” stop. I don’t mind stopping, I just want to be adequately compensated for the stop.

Most of the trips I drive in and around Hagerstown are the low mileage, high minute variety. Although there aren’t many miles from one end of Hagerstown to the opposite end, it can take time to go from one end to the other. This is especially true if a lot of cars on the road. It’s even worse if there are school buses on the roads dropping off kids and parents who want to speak to the bus driver.

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland - Bent Corner
I hate school buses.

The old Lyft driver pay rates

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland - Bent Corner

I wasn’t aware of the fact the penalty for the scheduled trip wasn’t the same as the standard canceled trip penalty. I had to cancel a trip because the rider failed to show up and I received only $7.00.

The New Lyft driver pay rates

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland - Bent Corner

The new Lyft diver pay rates went into effect yesterday, December 17.

Everything stayed the same except the per mile amount dropped from $0.96 to $.8025 and the per minute amount increased from $0.1275 to $0.21.

If you apply the old numbers to a hypothetical 5 mile, 10-minute trip, it works out to be:

Base Rate:  $1.2375
Miles: $4.80 (5 miles x $0.96)
Minutes: $1.275 (10 minutes x $0.1275)
Total: $7.31

Apply the new numbers to the same hypothetical 5 mile, 10-minute trip, it works out to be:

Base Rate:  $1.2375
Miles: $4.01 (5 miles x $0.8025)
Minutes: $2.10 (10 minutes x $0.21)
Total: $7.35

In conclusion

Lyft changes driver pay rates for Western Maryland - Bent Corner
I drive strangers around in my car for earthly riches, not glory.

I will not see much of a difference in the amount Lyft pays me to drive strangers in my car. If I see any difference, it will be on trips that take longer because the passenger wants me to stop at Dollar Tree to do some quick Christmas shopping. On trips like these, I’ll be making more money than I would have made before.

Want to try your hand at driving strangers for Lyft? Click this link to get started.

What to do when a Lyft passenger does not have a car seat for their child

If you drive for Lyft, I’m sure you’ve found yourself in the following situation: you arrive at the passenger’s location only to find out they have a small child, but they don’t have a car seat. Lyft requires passengers with small children to have a proper car seat.

From Lyft’s Help Center, under Children (17 and younger):

We’re happy to give kids a ride as well as adults as long as your children have the proper car seats that fit legal requirements in your state and city. Plan on providing your own car seat for children that require one.

Even though Lyft requires a car seat for children who need one, too many parents don’t have a car seat. If you cancel the ride because of a lack of a car seat, Lyft will not compensate you.

Unlike Uber, Lyft will only pay you a cancelation fee if the rider is not at the location they requested. This is not right. You’re adhering to local laws and Lyft’s own policy, yet you’re not properly compensated for it. You have to handle a rider with a small child, but without a car seat, a little differently than you would with Uber.

Ask the passenger to cancel the ride request

After explaining to your rider you cannot give them a ride without a car seat for their child, kindly ask them to cancel the ride. Wait for them to cancel the ride. If after a few minutes of waiting and they have not canceled the ride, call them through the app and ask again. If they refuse to do so, cancel the ride after the timer in the app ticks down to the point it allows you to cancel the ride. Make sure to select “Passenger is a no-show” as the reason.

Until Lyft changes its policy, this is the only way you’ll be compensated. Technically, it’s valid. The passenger did not show up at the designated pick-up point with a required safety device for their child.

New York City to cap the number of Uber and Lyft drivers

New York City has become the first major municipality in the United States to put a cap on the number of ridesharing drivers allowed to exist within its city. From CBS News:

New York City is hitting the brakes on fast-expanding ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Lawmakers on Wednesday approved a proposal to freeze new licenses for car service drivers for one year, becoming the first large city in the U.S. to impose such restrictions.

This is a very bad idea. It’s anti-consumer. By limiting the number of Lyft and Uber drivers available to riders, the taxi industry can now go back to raking in the money it was able to subject consumers to before ridesharing became a thing. The taxi industry has had years to establish itself as a positive entity in the market. They failed to do that. In fact, they burned a lot of calories doing the complete opposite.

Taxis suck and I hate them

People generally hate taxis. I sure do. The last time I used a taxi was in June 2008. We were back in California on vacation and the night before our flight to Maryland, we stayed at the Burbank Holiday Inn. The reason we stayed there was that it is close to the Burbank airport (3 miles) and offered a free shuttle service to the airport. We discovered the next morning that the free shuttle service didn’t start till 6:30 am. The problem was we had to check in to JetBlue at 6:00 am. We had to take a taxi. I called one and when the driver arrived, he informed me in an eastern European accent that he would take us for a flat $20.

I didn’t have a choice. He drove us to the airport without the meter running. The ride took only a few minutes. Taxis aren’t allowed to drive passengers without the meter running. I promised myself I’d never use a taxi again.

Getting an Uber or Lyft in New York City will be harder with each passing day

Uber and Lyft rely on a business model that depends heavily on constantly adding new drivers. The reason for this is drivers generally don’t stick around very long. It’s not like they turn in their two-week notice or call to have their driver account deleted. They just don’t drive anymore. You can go months without driving and then log in and start accepting rides again like nothing happened. I know this because if done that.

Unless Uber and Lyft make major changes to the way they manage drivers in New York City, getting a rideshare driver in New York City will get a lot harder.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever

I don’t know why, but yesterday was the worst day I’ve ever had as a part-time Uber and Lyft driver. It was like somebody came to Hagerstown and gave everyone who didn’t have a car a free one if they agreed to delete the Uber and Lyft app from their phone.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

I had a total of five drives yesterday for a total of $22.47 not including cash tips. For some reason, the few riders I did have were being quite generous with the cash tips.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

All five rides were with Uber, not Lyft. I don’t even know if Lyft was working yesterday. Normally as soon as I get a ping from Uber or Lyft and I accept the ride, I go to the other app and go offline. I got to the point yesterday where I didn’t even bother going offline in Lyft. What was the point? It was like Lyft forgot I existed yesterday.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

Not getting many drives meant I spent a lot of time sitting in the car reading. We had a wonderful spring day in Hagerstown yesterday. It got up to 95 degrees. That’s right, 95 degrees. The perfect temperature for sitting in the car reading a book. It’s not August, it’s May. Whatever happened to four distinct seasons? Is that just not a thing anymore?

To make matters worse, I didn’t sell any WordPress plugins yesterday. I did get a promising email from a WordPress developer asking if I would be available for future freelance work, so there was that shining moment in a day full of economic darkness.

Worst day of rideshare driving ever - Bent Corner

Not driving people around yesterday meant I had a lot of time for other stuff. I stopped in at Walmart while still logged into Uber and Lyft and bought a magnetic dry erase board and a white t-shirt. It meant I spent more money in less than ten minutes than I earned yesterday.

I haven’t read many books on business, but I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

And so goes the life of a professional freelancer. It’s a lot of hit and miss. Yesterday was pretty bad, but last month I made more money with selling WordPress plugins, integrating eCommerce onto websites, and rideshare driving than I’ve ever made working at a real job. Last month was a very good month. Yesterday was a very bad day.

Update

After writing this post on Friday I went out and made $134.56 just from Uber and Lyft. That doesn’t even include the cash tips I received. This one-day success more than made up for Thursday’s meager earnings. I guess all I have to do is complain here on my blog about not making enough money and poof, the following day I will rake it in like I’m Thurston Howell III.

Thurston Howell III

Thinking of driving for Lyft? Something to first consider

One of the things to consider before driving for Lyft is they have no problem asking you to take trips guaranteed to make you lose money. Case in point, the trip they sent me on the other day.

Lyft sent me 21 miles away to pick up a rider who wanted a ride from his house to a liquor store around the corner. I drove him to the store and waited while he bought beer. He then got back in the car and I drove him back to his house.

The entire round trip from his house, to the liquor store, and back to his house was less than a mile. Lyft was aware of this when they dispatched me to pick up the rider 21 miles away. Riders enter their location and where they want to go when requesting a ride.

Would Uber do this?

Uber handles issues like this differently. If a driver has to drive an extended distance to pick up a rider, they pay the driver for the inconvenience. Lyft doesn’t do this. Considering how Lyft’s business model seems to be based on imitating everything Uber does, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before Lyft starts paying drivers in a similar fashion.

Until they do, don’t allow Lyft to send you far away to pick up a passenger. The only reason I accepted it was because I was worried about my acceptance rating so I’d be eligible for the weekly promotion.

That’s never happing again. Before driving for Lyft, this is something to think about.

Lyft weekly guarantees are a waste of time

One of the things I do to augment my income as a freelance web developer is drive for Uber and Lyft. Oddly enough, it works out well. When I don’t have anything to do for a client, I go out and drive strangers around in my car. It helps pay the bills. One of the things that annoy me is Lyft weekly guarantees.

Because Lyft, or as I like to call them, Fake Uber, doesn’t have enough drivers in Western Maryland, they’ve been running Lyft weekly guarantees, promotions to get people like me to drive more. Last week they guaranteed $200 if you drove at least 20 riders and had a 90 percent acceptance rate. That means you accepted at least nine out of every ten ride requests.

Because I made more than $200 last week driving for Lyft, the promotion didn’t kick in for me.

This week, Lyft has been running a similar promotion. Drive at least 25 rides and maintain a 90 percent acceptance rate and you are guaranteed $270.

I’ve been trying to meet that goal. Normally I log into both Uber and Lyft and take the first request I get and then go offline on the other rideshare service. This week, I haven’t even been logging into Uber. I’ve been driving for Lyft the entire time.

As of this afternoon, I have 27 rides for the week, but my acceptance rate is only 87 percent. That’s three percent below what I need for the $270 promotion.

This makes no sense. I’ve only declined two (2) requests this entire week. One was a passenger I already drove that day. He was both rude and he smelled bad. The other was a passenger who’s ride was going to take longer than 45 minutes. Both Uber and Lyft tell you when a rider needs to go somewhere far away. That almost always means they need a ride to Baltimore or Washington DC. When you’re participating in a promotion like this, it doesn’t behoove you to go on long trips. You want short trips. You want the kind of trips you can do a lot of in a day.

This week I’ve been offered 29 trips and I’ve accepted 27 of them. That works out to be over 92 percent. The problem is Lyft is showing that my acceptance rate is at 87%. I tried emailing them and it was a complete waste of time. This was their response:

Welcome to Lyft Support, as I understand the importance of having clear information and your Acceptance Rate inquiry deserves real attention and accurate solutions, let me be the one who can fix it for you.

Richard, I would love to help you change your Acceptance Rate, however, we are not allowed to do so due to Lyft policies. Therefore, I would recommend you to keep driving and providing amazing ride experiences!

I didn’t ask to have my acceptance rate changed. I asked how they determined my acceptance rate was 87 percent when basic math shows it should be over 92 percent.

It’s a lesson learned. From now on, I know to ignore Lyft weekly guarantees. If you satisfy their requirements for the incentive, they’ll just monkey with the numbers so you magically don’t qualify. There’s a hard record of the number of drives, but there is no hard record showing how many ride requests they’ve sent you. They can simply manipulate that as they see fit so it comes out in their favor.

Your Lyft acceptance rate is whatever Lyft wants it to be.

Update

I only drive Monday through Friday, so my week with Lyft is officially over. I finished the week with 31 rides with an acceptance rate of 89%. I earned $256.78. My guess is that if I earned $14 more, my acceptance rate would have magically shot up to 90%, qualifying me for the guaranteed $270. If I earned $14 more, I would have earned more than the guaranteed $270.

From now on, I’m not going to worry about the Lyft weekly guarantees. I’ll just drive and let what happens, happen.