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How much money can Lyft driver make?

For many people in many parts of the world, driving a ride share car is a new experience. It can be a liberating way of making some money. Overall, Lyft drivers can expect to make about 21 dollars per hour of driving. Your daily limit of total hours is 10, including non-billable hours. However, be aware that this income must cover for your gasoline cost and car maintenance.

Note: I am a Lyft driver myself in the San Francisco bay area. All the numbers below are from my real driving experience. My normal area of driving covers silicon valley (e.g., San Jose and Palo Alto), East bay (e.g., Fremont), the Castro Valley (e.g., Pleasanton), and far central valley suburbs (e.g., Tracy and Stockton).

Let me give you some numbers as examples. If a Lyft rider pays Lyft 40 dollars, you will be given about 70%, or 28 dollars. A 28 dollar ride in the San Francisco bay area is typically about 30 miles long on highway, and can take you about one hour. It can also mean that you will be in a new city and new time window, and may not be able to find a return rider quickly.

In reality, your ride requests will be a mixture of long ones (20-100 miles) or short ones (within 10 miles). I earned 70 dollars from the 100 mile ride (from Livermore to Sacramento). And there was no tip. I typically earn five dollars for inner city rides, such as Mom's dropping off kids, people going to visit friends, going to car repair shops, or workers commuting to work.

How much money lyft drivers make
How much does Lyft drivers make

Here are five of the biggest costs that you must cover yourself.

  1. Your time. Obviously you are on your own in terms of using your time.

  2. Your gasoline. You must fill your car almost on daily basis. For most cars, a day worth of driving is about 12 gallon, or 50 dollars. It can cover about 300 miles in my car (a Jeep).

  3. Your car depreciation. Obviously the more miles a car has on odometer, the less valuable it becomes. If you put 300 miles a day on your car, you are talking about 10,000 miles a month if you drive for a month. Most cars can last 200,000 to 300,000 miles with top maintenance. This gives a car a life time of 3 years.

  4. Your car insurance. You must pay for car insurance.

  5. Your cost of car maintenance and repair. You must cover for costs of repairs.

Let's get back to the example earlier. For my ride earning 28 dollars, I will most likely burn 2 gallons of gas. With gasoline cost of nearly 4.5 dollars per gallon, this is 9 dollars of cot. This leaves about 19 dollars. At this rate, your hourly pay is about 19 dollars per hour, if you calculate it this way. In reality, the other costs will also eat significantly into this haul.

How much lyft drivers make
Lyft driver makes 20 dollars an hour of driving.

If it appears that a Lyft drive makes no money, you are not completely wrong. Lyft and Uber have powerful algorithm that calculates the pay to the driver and the price for the rider. it boils down to a zero sum game for the driver. Some Lyft and Uber drivers are full time (that is, 10 hours a day, every day). Some are part time (e.g., a couple of hours a week, in peek hours).

In reality, you may be driving anywhere in the United States and the income is about the same, I suspect. Your rider can not be long rides all day. It will always be a mixture of long and short rides. Both long and short ones have their own pros and cons.

A Lyft can pick and choose what rides to accept, but in reality you have to go with the flow and take whatever the riders demand, based on location and time.

The author is a Lyft driver. To contact the author, use the email link provided in the website.

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