Depending on whom you ask, driving for Lyft or UberX is either a gold mine or an exploitative labor practice. Uber last year infamously claimed many of its drivers made more than $90,000 per year, but it did not account for the cost of driver expenses like gas and car maintenance. Then, in January, it commissioned a report on its internal data, which said drivers make on as much as $17 per hour in Los Angeles and $30 per hour in New York. That report, too, had its critics, and the company began lowering its rates soon after the survey was conducted, saying that the reduced fares would mean more trips for drivers. What kind of living drivers can hope to earn on on-demand driving platforms is still opaque.
SherpaShare, a platform that thousands of drivers use to track their earnings across different platforms, has another data source to add to the equation. It tracked over a million trips and compiled the average fare per trip in different cities.
The results, released today, include every trip, whether one mile or 20 miles. The company did not indicate how many trips per hour drivers were able to make or how much downtime drivers had in between trips, both of which would be important in determining what kind of salary drivers earn. Thus, the conclusions one can draw from the data are limited. One point of note is that trip totals stayed relatively consistent despite the rate cuts Uber implemented in January.
New York City, Austin, and San Francisco were the most profitable per-trip locations. Chicago, Baltimore, and Nashville were the least profitable. New York City was an extreme outlier. The average New York city trip was on average 106.6% over the national average for the five-month period.
The effect of surge pricing can be observed in Boston in February, where record snowfall resulted in more surge. That resulted in fares 30% higher than the national average.