Driver Articles

Signing up for Lyft – Part 4: Background Check and the First Ride

Welcome ride and 19-point vehicle inspection out of the way, you’re ready to hit the road, right? Wrong! There’s still the pesky background check to deal with.
Sterling BackCheck
Lyft’s background check is handled by Sterling BackCheck. They have several different options for background check like:
• $18 per individual for National
• $60 for National, County and Federal
• $85 for National, County and Federal + License and Medical
You can check their website for periodic status updates or call their support (1-800-899-2772) to know the latest status.
How long does it take?
Typically it takes 1-2 weeks. Sterling updates the website as soon as it’s verified and cleared. Lyft may take a few more days to inherit and process the same. In rare cases some internal error or missing data may cause it to be up to 3-4 weeks or more.
Feel free to Tweet @asklyft or drop a polite message via their contact form inquiring your status. If you don’t want to deal with canned answers it’s best to be pro-active with their support.
What do I do once Sterling clears my Background check?
It’s always a good idea to request a copy. There could be some surprises, you never know! In fact, you may be able to get by with minor misdemeanors on your record. Once Sterling BackCheck has cleared you, it usually takes between 3 to 5 days to get you on road.
Local Regulations
Lyft is pretty insistent on erring on the safe side of county and local regulations. There are a ton of those for different driving zones throughout the United States. Lyft ties up with local county databases and national regulations and livery databases to ensure all background checks are in compliance.
There are a few easy ways to stay on the right foot:
• Ask your Mentor during the mentor session, especially about the local regulations.
• Don’t ignore the periodic emails from Lyft.
• Contact DMV to know your city and state regulations
Lyft provides a handy resource of region specific background check requirements and it might be worth it to go through it before you apply e.g. Chicago wouldn’t let you drive for Lyft if you’ve had your Chicago Public Chauffeur License revoked or denied (ever!), Portland needs you to carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle (at all times!) and the State of California needs you to print the Lyft Trade Dress and display on your windshield clearly (unless you fancy a $1,000 fine!).
If you don’t have your Lyft Welcome Kit yet, simply print a visible symbol and tape it on until it’s shipped. Bottomline: It’s YOUR duty to find and comply with these regulations. Lyft isn’t liable.

Airport Regulations
Airports have tie-ups with rental services and local taxi-cab services. These are two businesses who have been hit hard by the advent of ridesharing services. Needless to say, there are many airports which resist ridesharing vehicles with a slew of custom regulations, extra parking fee, stringent parking and passenger pick-up timelines etc. Spend a few minutes to find out before you get on your first ride.
Again, your mentor might be a great resource. Email or Tweet the Lyft support for further clarifications.
Test Ride as a Passenger
It always helps to observe from the other side of the fence. Spend a little time and perhaps $5/10 on short rides, observe how the drivers handle the GPS navigation, mount the device and take alternative routes based on local knowledge and instinct of heavy traffic rather than follow the GPS all the time. You’ll also see how they make little changes, or stock up their car with goodies to cast a good impression – all that is needed to meet the regulations and drive up their ratings.
And yes, you can be honest about being a new Lyft Driver and ask them questions about what are the city/ area specific regulations, perhaps find some inside tip on best times and zones to access etc. Use this opportunity to learn about things you forgot to ask your Mentor.
Distance, Ride and Acceptance Rate limits
Maximum distance you can clock on a single trip is 100 miles from point of pick-up. Rare as it might be, if you do get a longer ride, tap off the first trip, and tap-on a following on.
Maximum amount stipulated is $200. Again, pretty rare but you can work the system by adding on consecutive rides.
Lyft puts these regulations to keep their drivers and their earning within the possible “city limits” they are registered for. Lyft acceptance rates are typically expected to be 75-80% for a good standing. You can obviously go lower, but it does reflect on your profile and possibly affects future business.
Driver Mode
Once you click the pink steering while on the app to log into the driver mode, there’d be a text informing you and several other texts guiding you through your first ride. Lyft wants you to get on the road ASAP, since it means more business for them!
Lyft Weekly Pay Period: 5 am (Monday) – 4:59AM (Monday of the next week)
Total compensation: Earning via fares, Referral/ Promo bonuses, Fees, and Tips.
Summary: Daily (you’d receive a summary of all your transactions at 12 am); there’d also be an email with weekly Pay Period summary every Tuesday evening.
Commission: Lyft takes 20% commission off your regular earnings. During peak hours, it gets progressively reduced to 10% and eventually to 0% over more time (typically over 10 hours or more).
Tips: 100% of tips, cancellation fee from trips are yours.
For direct deposit, sign up here. Lyft also accepts payment by third party payment processors like PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay.

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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