Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's Eve and early New Year Day driving

We monitored UberX surge pricing the entire New Year's Eve in the Bay Area to determine the best region for drivers to service. What we found most surprising is that surge pricing didn't activate until after midnight. Strangely, steep surge pricing occurred in the North Bay rather than San Francisco.

The North Bay region (Marin County, Napa County and Santa Rosa) generated the highest surge pricing, topping 7.1x between 12:30am-1:30am. The East Bay and San Francisco remained at a constant, never exceeding 3.5x. In San Francisco, surge pricing never exceeded 3x. It stayed within the 1-2x range. 

As most drivers know, driving in San Francisco will ruin personal vehicles. High hills, steep drops, traffic, huge potholes, poor road conditions, cable cart and Muni tracks, JayWalkers, drunken and drugged pedestrians, vomiting riders and a slew of other events skew earnings. A driver reported picking up their first client, who carried a white bucket into the backseat and smelled of vomit. 

At 12:30-12:30am this morning, surge pricing reached 7.1x in the North Bay, the highest multiples we've seen on any ridesharing platform. With a 7.1x, a rider would pay $256.72 taking a 20 mile trip. It is quite possible surge pricing reached 8.1x in the North Bay. Minimum prices these trips would cost under these multiples are $23.80 for 7.1 and $27.15 for 8.1x. If drivers transported clients 2 feet, these amounts above represent the minimum cost. 

We didn't see surge pricing leading up to midnight. How in world can drivers make $50+ an hour driving during non-surged times. Random emails arrived to entice drivers to get on the road. Uber claimed that drivers could earn $50+ an hour between 7pm and 3am. 

Is $50 an hour that enticing to sacrifice your New Year's Eve to make peanuts. You still need to calculate commission and the cost of fuel. If you earned $50 per hour driving 8 hours, you would clear only $270-$290, depending on the cost of gas. Uber charges their drivers 20% commission. 

Sidecar featured the best driving perks of any ridesharing company. The following bonus incentives were offered on New Year's Eve from Sidecar: 

Level 1: Drive between 9pm-3am. Earn at least $50 for 5 trips and pay no commission. 

Level 2: Drive at least 5 hours between 9pm-3am and accept 90% of all rides and complete 10 rides that generate $200 and above. If these goals are met, Sidecar didn't charge commission and would pay drivers another 25% bonus on their overall earnings between this time period. 

Level 3: The top driver who meets the requirements above and earned the most in their region received a $500 bonus. 

Which ride app company featured the best New Year's incentives? Uber or Sidecar? Sidecar enabled their drivers to set 5X in their marketplace, whereas Uber didn't activate surge pricing until after midnight. If all conditions were met in Level 2, a Sidecar driver would see more of their money on this platform than on Uber making $50 per hour between 7pm-3am. 

Uber didn't offer a bonus for a top driver. No $500 bonus would be given to the highest earning driver. Sidecar rewarded the top driver in each region with a $500 bonus. 

What we can tell you is that UberX drivers can earn as much as $50 an hour driving on a random weeknight and/or weekend night. It all depends on some luck, driving at good times and good positioning. 

Would you want to risk transporting vomiting clients on a New Year's Eve and early New Year's Day to clear $270-$290? A restaurant server and/or a bartender can make just as much in tips. UberX drivers have completed single trips that earn them 40-50% of these amounts without surge pricing. A 90 minute trip without traffic could make a driver $125. 4 airport trips on a weekday and/or weekend morning could be completed in 3-4 hours. Surge pricing within bar hours can make a driver $100+ for an hour. 

New Year's Eve was not all that appealing. It seemed like all talk than action. Under good conditions, UberX drivers can make just as much money driving on random days and nights. They don't need a holiday shift to generate good money. 

Based on the incentives to drive on New Year's Eve, Sidecar drivers came out the clear winner. Ride technology companies take too much off the top. With that said, ridesharing drivers must cover the cost of gas, maintenance and repair costs, tickets, parking citations, and snacks. Uber still hasn't addressed integrating a tipping feature in their client app. As a result of this, most clients are not tipping their drivers. We know of drivers who didn't make any tips during the holiday season. 

At $50 per hour on a New Year's Eve shift, no thank you. It is not worth the headache to engage with drunken riders. Even so, no surge pricing with cheap fares make driving between 5pm-12am not worthwhile. If drivers were positioned in the North Bay, they would make a fortune on single trips. These high surge prices probably enticed drivers to change locations. 

Sidecar keeps their drivers in specific locations. They give their drivers the freedom to increase price multiples whenever they choose to do so without any restraints. This ridesharing company also offers ride incentives to reward drivers. Drivers can receive tips from riders. Furthermore, Sidecar usually feature no commission offers to help drivers earn more money. 

It is likely that some lucky Uber drivers earned greater than $1K driving between early New Year's Eve and early New Year's Day. Advertising a $50 per hour average, without surge pricing activating until 12:30am, reveals to us that you must drive the entire 8 hours to make up to $400. Trips completed between 7pm-12am may not make drivers $50 an hour, but surge pricing at 12:30am can boost pay to $80 an hour for 2 hours. We see $50 an hour possible in 8 hours on New Year's Eve. 

Who will see more money between 7pm-3am on New Year's Eve? Sidecar or Uber drivers? The top winner on the Sidecar platform ($500 bonus), of course, will make more than all drivers. 

A Sidecar driver who earns $250 between the qualifying times and following the requirements set in place, will earn more than an Uber driver making $50 per hour for 8 hours. Sidecar drivers don't pay commission during those times, whereas Uber drivers would pay out $1 per trip and 20% commission. The $250 Sidecar driver would see $62.50 in bonuses. $312.50 is what a Sidecar driver will see.

Uber drivers averaging $50 per hour for 8 hours will only see $304-$310 after commission and safe ride fees. An UberX driver completing trips on a random weekend night and working until the morning (8 hours total), can earn just as much as those who drove on New Year's Eve.

Is New Year's Eve losing its luster, unless drivers were positioned in Napa early on to take those 7.1x rides. One ride at that price multiplier can make a driver a nice sum. Surprisingly, there weren't any Uber drivers available during those high surge times. This implies that clients were taking these rides at high surge prices. 

Did you make more than $50 per hour on UberX platform or exceed $200+ on Sidecar? Share your driver earnings on Twitter using #NewYearDriving. Once this thread is started, we will hyperlink the hashtag to lead others there. 

Happy New Year! Happy Ridesharing!