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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Airport trips not as appealing as advertised

Airport rides are some of the most profitable trips on UberX, Lyft and Sidecar. At pickup, ridesharing drivers are usually excited the moment they see clients/riders/passengers waiting at pickup addresses with luggage. It is not always the case when riders have luggage present, because they elect to use BART as a cheaper alternative. However, most of the early morning rides - involving luggage - are mostly airport trips. Why are airport trips not as appealing?

Good airport trips are those which originate from the Marina, Sunset, Richmond, North Beach, and Presidio districts. Short trips from the Mission District net drivers less than $20. Nonetheless, ride requests accepted on return routes back to San Francisco are not so good. One UberX driver shared accepting three ride requests in a row, two from South San Francisco and another from Candlestick Park. These rides minus commission and airport toll charges paid out between $7-$9.

Imagine accepting airport ride requests from San Bruno, South San Francisco and Visitacion Valley in San Francisco, and only clearing $7-$8 on these rides. Basically on these short airport trips, ridesharing drivers enter SFO, unload client luggage and leave with only peanuts in their pockets.

Why are these airport trips unappealing? They are too close to SFO, so minimal per mile and per minute charges are accumulated during these trips. This is a problem because drivers must also pay commission and toll charges - $4. A $11-$15 SFO trip will net drivers $6-$9.

How can drivers reduce close airport trips? They can wait in the TNC que for at least 30 minutes to possibly score a ride from the SFO to an outside destination. There is a good chance these SFO rides will take drivers out to distant cities and make them money. Drivers don't pay bridge toll charges in any direction on these trips originating from SFO out to any destinations. However, riders are charged bridge tolls in free directions because drivers may return back into San Francisco to continue working. Longer trips accumulate additional mileage per minute and time per minute earnings.

Another alternative to reduce short, low-paying airport runs is to go offline once leaving the airport. Travel back to San Francisco and enter busy surged regions to secure work/commute trips and maybe another SFO ride. It really depends on drivers; whether they are out to make money or choose to provide a moral service. There are money-driven drivers, then there are ethical drivers. Essentially, the primary goal is to make money performing ridesharing services. Nevertheless, ridesharing drivers may accomplish this moneymaking goal by accepting all rides and focus primarily on increasing volume of trips rather than concentrate on good paying rides.

In retrospect, not all airport trips pay well. Ridesharing drivers may get hooked on multiple SFO runs at extremely cheap fares since ridesharing companies agreed to airport toll charges and commission is also deducted from drivers. These close airport runs may net drivers only $6-9 per trip. We have proof of these short airport trips, which take up valuable time (pickup, loading, driving to airport, unloading and leaving airport) and don't make drivers money ($6-9). It up to drivers to make adjustments to increase their earnings, or they risk losing money (fuel cost).

Fuel is on the rise again. This increase in fuel cost will definitely influence driving behavior. Lyft is holding a Spring promotion to waive commission on all trips to help drives. What will Uber do? Sidecar? Once gas prices reach $4+, many drivers will reduce their hours and there will likely be more surge pricing activated. As a result of this, clients will pay more and face longer pickup times. Springtime is the biggest challenge for ridesharing companies. High gas prices, above $4, will dictate the number of drivers who take the road.

It is not easy for drivers to earn decent money with high commission, steep gas prices, wear and tear, maintenance cost, repairs, possible parking tickets due to clients, traffic citations, snacks, water, tolls, and other expenses. The first year of ridesharing is like operating a new business. Drivers may lose money because they are spending a fortune on gas, repairs, oil changes, repairs from damage inflicted by poor road conditions, brakes, car washes, and additional expenses.

Drive smart. Know when repetitive short airport runs are impacting driver earning potential. Completing three short airport trips within an hour may net drivers only $20. This is not much money, considering an airport trip form North Beach and/or the Marina District can net drivers $38 on a 1.5X surge. There is not much surging around San Bruno, South San Francisco and near Candlestick Park. Not even Daly City is surging during the early morning. However, there are surges in Palo Alto, Redwood City, and other cities located along the 101.

Good luck taking airport trips. Rideshare on!