As a rideshare driver, you will get trips of varying distances. There are short trips that are commonplace during rush hour and last a few minutes.
Then there are the long trips that run into more minutes, or even hours sometimes. In this article, we discuss the trips Uber drivers prefer.
Are short trips or long trips more profitable for rideshare drivers?
The profitability of either option varies. With short trips, you can take advantage of surge pricing and ride bonuses, but you may earn less on each ride (if there is no surge). Long trips allow you to earn more on each ride, but you may accumulate dead miles which can reduce your earnings.
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What Is A Long Trip By Uber/Lyft Standards?
Before discussing if longer trips are more profitable or not, it is important to know how much distance a ride must cover to be considered “long”.
The average Uber/Lyft trip distance is 5-6 miles and takes around ten minutes to complete. Short trips are usually in this range or maybe slightly lower in terms of distance covered.
Long trips are mostly four times or five times the average ride distance and take much longer to complete. For example, we can consider a trip “long” when the distance covered is over 10 miles or takes over forty-five minutes to complete.
How Long Trips Can You Take with Uber/Lyft?
Uber does not place a limit on the distance a driver can cover or the amount he/she can collect for a trip. There is a cap on the time that can be spent on a trip, though. Uber’s official site says, “While Uber doesn’t limit the distance you can travel on a trip, trips may automatically end after 4 hours.”
In theory, the app is supposed to end the trip, and the rider has to request for the ride again. However, Uber rarely enforces this policy in the real world. In fact, drivers have reported trips that lasted up to five, six, and seven hours.
Fun Fact: The longest Uber ride ever was completed in 2017 by a driver named Anthony as part of an attempt by YouTube celebrity, MrBeast, to break the then-existing record of 400 miles.
The trip which started in North Carolina and ended in California was well over 2000 miles and lasted roughly 40 hours!
You can easily check on our article Do Uber Drivers Pay for Gas (and Tolls) Themselves?
For Lyft, the maximum distance a rider can travel is 100 miles while the maximum amount you can pay for a Lyft ride is $500. Once the app’s meter crosses either the time or the distance threshold, the app’s fare calculator stops running and the rider has to re-request for the ride again.
You should know that Lyft drivers cannot accept rides outside the coverage area outlined by Lyft. Lyft’s coverage area is not as wide as Uber’s, and you may be stranded if the app ends the ride when you are out of the coverage area. So prepare to give the driver a huge tip if you want to continue the trip.
Fun Fact: The longest Lyft ride is a 639-mile trip from Denver, Colorado to Sioux City, Iowa, and is estimated to have cost around $744 dollars as per standard Lyft rates.
What Is The Shortest Distance You Can Take With Uber/Lyft?
There is no “minimum” amount of miles you can go with either Uber or Lyft. However, there is a flat fee that you have to pay regardless of the distance of the ride. This is called the “Base Fare” and is usually around $5-$6 in most states, although the specific amount may vary.
However, rideshare drivers complain that short trips are unprofitable for them for various reasons. For starters, consider the time it will take the Uber/Lyft driver to reach where you are.
Those miles covered while trying to get to the pickup location are “dead miles” and Uber/Lyft do not pay for them. If the distance is short, the fare may total up to just a little above the minimum fare, which is about $5.
Uber will still collect its mandatory 20% cut from the fare, leaving the driver with about $3 in total earnings. Drivers still have to handle expenses for gas, maintenance, etc. from their earnings. From this, it is easy to understand why they dislike short trips.
Next time you order Uber/Lyft ride for a short trip, the best you can do is give a generous tip. This will reduce the loss the driver incurred on the trip.
Can An Uber/Lyft Driver Refuse Long Trips?
Typically, when you receive a ride request you cannot see the rider’s destination unless you accept the request. This means you cannot know if the ride is long or short before accepting the ride request.
You can decline once you accept the request and see the passenger’s destination. Although, this may affect your ratings and will cause the app to reduce the number of ride requests you get.
Another tactic used by drivers to reject long rides without hurting their ratings is to stall and force the rider to cancel. This way if the rider cancels, their ratings are not affected and they get the mandatory cancellation fee.
However, many people see this tactic as illegal so we will not advise you to try it.
According to Mashable, there are signs that Uber will roll out a new feature that will allow drivers to officially reject ride requests. Drivers will get trip information beforehand and can choose if they want to accept a ride request.
Such trip information includes destination, estimated ride time and mileage, ride type, and potential earnings range.
How Does Uber/Lyft Where Drivers Go?
Before the emergence of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, taxi drivers were notorious for declining ride requests for different reasons. Some declined rides because the drop-off location was in a high-crime area. Others, because the distance was too long. Some even declined for weird reasons. Say, because the rider was from a different race.
Rideshare companies promised to solve this by putting in place measures that make it harder for drivers to decline ride requests arbitrarily.
One of such measures was to design the rideshare app in a way that prevents drivers from seeing the rider’s destination until they accept the ride request. This way, the driver has no choice but to accept the trip.
What happens if the driver cancels the ride after seeing the rider’s destination? The rider’s cancellation rate increases and acceptance rate decreases. The implication of this is that Uber/Lyft will see such a driver as being unreliable.
Once your acceptance rate continues to decrease and your cancellation rate increases, Uber and Lyft will cease matching you to ride requests in your area, even if you are available. Instead, the app will match the ride requests to drivers who have low cancellation rates and high acceptance rates.
Another way Uber and Lyft subtly exercise control over where you go is through special promotions. Often, these promotions involve getting a specific number of rides to get a certain bonus. For example, in San Francisco, a recent promotion saw Lyft give drivers $423 for completing 30 rides.
While it is not mandatory to participate in these promotions, you would not want to pass up on the chance to make an extra dollar. Therefore, you have no choice but to accept any rides regardless of the destination if you hope to complete the stipulated number of rides.
Can Uber/Lyft Drivers Determine Where They Drive?
While Uber and Lyft drivers still influence where drivers can go, recent changes have given drivers full control over where they drive.
The Lyft app has a feature called “Destination Mode” which grants you control of your itinerary at all times. You can set a preferred destination e.g. your home area, and you will only get rides that will take you closer to your preset destination.
It will remove ride requests to locations, not on the route. This limits the chances that the app will match you with those long trips where there is a higher chance that you will not get any ride requests on the way back.
How Does The Destination Mode Work?
Lyft’s Destination Mode is designed is to let you control the rides you get. It has two filters that help you do this:
- Arrival On Time: This feature allows you to input the time you want to reach your destination. You may get rides in any direction, even those that take you further away from your preset destination. However, once the app detects that you are nearing the time you set, it will start matching you with rides with the same route as your desired destination.
Once the arrival time you set is approaching, you will get a notification from the Lyft app reminding you to head to your preset destination.
- Head To Destination: The Head To destination feature guarantees that you will only be matched with ride requests that move you closer to your final destination. It will not match you with rides that require you to deviate from the route to your final destination.
How To Use Lyft Destination Mode
- Open the Lyft app and click on the filter icon in the top-right corner.
- Select either the “Arrival on Time” filter option or the “Head To Destination” filter options.
- Input your desired destination or choose from any saved addresses – you can save up to six destinations which you can select from in the future. For example, you can save your home address, work address, church address, etc. and select any of them based on your desired destination.
- In case you use the “Arrive on Time” feature, enter the time you want to be at your destination.
You can always change your arrival time or final destination by clicking on the pencil icon.
Uber has its own destination filter feature called “Driver Destination”. Like Lyft’s Destination Mode, this will ensure you are matched with rides that allow you to move toward your final destination.
How To Use Uber’s Driver Destination Feature
- Open the Uber Driver app and click on the magnifying glass icon at the top of the screen to open the destination filter page.
- Enter your desired location in the “Filter Trips Toward” bar and tap “Set Destination” to confirm your selection.
C. Your location will be shown as a pin on the Uber map and you will see a “Finding Matching Trips” message displayed on the screen.
If you set arrival time, you may get rides that are not on the way to your destination. However, the app will notify you once it detects you are nearing your arrival time and will start matching you to rides to your destination.
How Is The Cost Of Rideshare Trips Calculated?
According to Uber’s website, the final cost of a ride is calculated like this:
- (Base Fare + time rate + distance rate) x Surge Multiplier) + tolls and other fees
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft use the same method to calculate rideshare fares.
However, before we show you how your fare is calculated, it is important to know the factors that are considered when calculating the cost of Uber trips:
- Time: This refers to the duration of the ride.
- Distance: This is the entire length of the trip or the distance covered during the trip.
- Demand: If there is a shortage of drivers when a passenger orders the ride, a “surge multiplier” is applied. For example, if you order a ride and there is a 3x surge, the app will triple your fare.
- Base Fare: This is the flat fee paid at the beginning of every ride. It helps pay for the dead miles racked up by drivers before getting to the pickup location.
- Booking Fee: This covers some operational costs of the rideshare company.
- Tolls/Other Fees: Riders are required to pay for tolls and other fees (e.g. airport fees, if you are picked up at an airport) incurred during the ride.
- Tips: An option to tip usually pops up at the end of the ride. If the rider decides to tip, the amount chosen is added to the final cost.