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Signing up for Lyft – Part 5: First Week of driving for Lyft

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Registration, background check, vehicle inspection and mentor sessions out of the way – you’re ready to hit the road and make a good living out of driving for Lyft. You are excited to make a lot of cash, drive headlong into a hot zone and reap the benefits of prime-time pricing.

Everyone does! But it might be worth it to ease yourself in, and also allow yourself to make a few mistakes before you feel seasoned. Besides, you would hear a lot of different versions of “Do’s and Don’ts” and new questions crowd your mind.

Before you start

There are a few common questions which you must be clear on:

  • There are no specific hours or permissions you need to clear to start. Pretty much any time you log into the App, and select the pink steering wheel icon, you’re ready to roll in driver mode.
  • Ensure you understand the app perfectly. A common issue with most drivers is that they’re not yet familiar with the app when they start accepting calls, often forgetting to Tap On or Tap off the trip at the right time – resulting in plenty of time wasted in correcting the trip amounts. Until it is corrected, you can’t accept another call.
  • Familiarity with GPS and the app also allows you to learn how to best interpret the data as supplied by the Lyft app. If there’s one thing you can’t do – it’s trying to figure out how to navigate the route after you’ve accepted a ride.

The First Ride

Here are a few thumb rules to have a happy initiation:

  • Start in a low-traffic zone – a suburb or a relatively low-traffic neighborhood will allow you to spot your pick-up easily, and find a waiting/ parking spot quickly. It would be better than testing your nerves in the middle of few hundred cars ready to honk the hell out for the slightest wait.
  • Start in a familiar area – You would know a safe pick-up and parking spot. Even if it’s not always where your passenger is, you know how to get there, and coordinate with them. Another plus would be taking a more ‘realistic’ route rather than blindly having to trust the navigator, which might actually put you in a high-traffic area.
  • Double-check the actual address – Take a little time to understand the actual address, possible alternative routes around the pick-up etc. Basically, treat it like you were a passenger and you needed to get somewhere else in the quickest, safest way.
  • Ask the Passenger – Several seasoned Lyft drivers agree: it’s always worth communicating with your rider regarding the best route. For example, a Chicago ride may often show the shortest route by distance through Michigan Avenue, but more often than not it is riddled with heavy traffic. Making a quick detour and taking the Lake Shore drive might save plenty of time, something a Chicago native would always clue you in on.
  • Stay calm and honest – It’s a fine balance to strike. You are driving a stranger, for money, in your personal vehicle. You don’t know what to expect. It’s best to say casually conversational. Don’t let your nerves spill over to hyperactive chatter or creepy questions. Neither do you want to come across as aloof or nervous. Don’t feel pressurized to converse about stuff you don’t know. It’s fine if you don’t know much about football or Game of Thrones. Just being engaging and friendly will do.

Let them know that it’s your first week doing this. More often than not people would ask you about your experience, appreciate the honesty, and not kill your rating even if you’re a little slow or miss an exit.

  • Accept that some people would be brutal – It’s hard to impress everyone. Some people may be simply venting their bad day on your ratings. Stick to the basics and don’t feel too bad if your ratings are not 5 stars all the time. After first 30 rides, they’ll start showing up on your profile.
  • Additional Perks – Lyft doesn’t insist on keeping water bottles, candies, chargers and other stuff for your ride anymore. However, given that the first week is prone to errors they might be a good cushion for your ratings. As you get more settled, you may ditch them if you please.

What if I make a Mistake?

Know that you aren’t the first one. The moment you realize, immediately convey it to the rider, apologize and take steps to correct it. If you missed an exit, forgot to tap on/ tap off a ride, or took a wrong route, correct it ASAP, but ensuring the passenger safety.

Don’t try last minute lane changes, sudden turns, burning through yellow lights or any unsafe means. And please don’t try to be sneaky. Riders would appreciate it more if you genuinely accept your mistake and promise to correct it. You may even tap off the ride from the point it was potentially going to be over. Trust me, if there’s no extra cost involved, the riders often won’t be harsh on your ratings.

If it’s a technical issue with the app or navigator – ask Lyft’s support to fix it. Again, be transparent and communicate it to the rider.

Can I test-drive working for Lyft?

Absolutely! Having gone through all the background checks and inspections it might be best to try it out for a few weeks before you decide if it’s worth your time and effort. You can always quit, or join a different rideshare service if you wish. Just have fun and learn as you go.

Best Times to Drive?

Since it’s your first week, it might be worth looking for ways to minimize competition.

  • Early mornings of weekends are usually great since not too many people are out. People returning from social hotspots open late on Friday often would avail you.

Flip Side: Plenty of drunk/ hung-over riders. Keep a few paper bags handy (I’m serious!)

  • Late afternoons of weekends are busy and generally a great time, again for people hitting up social spaces, pubs, nightclubs etc.

Caveat: high competition from drivers who have full-time jobs on weekdays

  • Sunday mornings – you will again find a lot of passengers in various states of incoherence after they’ve had their Saturday night fill. Mostly quiet rides, with some people happily passing out or going back to sleep on your comfortable back-seat.
  • Weekday nights – Most of the Lyft’s drivers who are signed up for some extra cash might not bother attacking the week nights after a day job. These are generally high volume times and fetch you good money with the Prime-Time surges coming along often.

Sunday evenings and nights and Weekday mornings are usually not worth it. People are either preparing for the week ahead or generally working (respectively).

Weekly Guarantees?

During the first few weeks you might not make money as well as you expect. In certain cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York etc., Lyft has Weekly guarantees to make up the difference.

To qualify:

  • You need to sign up and qualify for weekly guarantee in a relevant city, either by following the application link in a Lyft ad for or by using a referral weekly guarantee promo code.
  • Match the criteria for hours, number of rides and acceptance rate for a certain period.

There you have it. Now hit the road and have fun driving for Lyft!

Next Steps:

Getting Started With Lyft I: Lyft Sign up Bonus

Getting Started With Lyft II: Lyft Vehicle and Driver Requirements

Getting Started With Lyft III: Passing Your Mentor Session and Lyft Welcome Ride

Getting Started With Lyft IV: Lyft Background Check and Preparing for Your First Ride

Getting Started With Lyft V: Your First Week of Lyft Driving


Brett HellingProfile Photo Brett Helling
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