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Driving for Lyft and UberX in Boston

Driving for Lyft and UberX in Boston

I have to say, it has been a crazy last week of 2013.

Lyft

I decided to try out Lyft about two weeks ago, but the application process took a day or two and drove about 24 hours in the last weekend (Friday-Sunday) of 2013. I didn’t have time to do the mentoring session until the following weekend so it took a week before I was officially a Lyft driver. Very few Lyfts but they pay a minimum hourly salary so I cashed in big time on that. There are some tax implications (not really applicable when I will post about it) there but I will go into detail as part of a series of posts on Lyft and UberX.

I netted about $600 bucks from driving just one weekend. Figuring for tax, my take-home was closer to $360 (self employment tax, social security, federal, state) and spent about $30 in gas. This was a quiet weekend so I would expect the take-home to be comparable if I can give more Lyfts with figuring for higher gas consumption.

UberX

As I kind of liked driving around for Lyft, I wanted to try out UberX as well to compare the two services. I signed up Sunday night and was approved by Tuesday afternoon, or NYE. They were in a rush to get as many new drivers as possible on the road for NYE. I had to show up in person to the UberX office in Boston. There were no less than 10 people there trying to get signed up not for just UberX but for UberTaxi and their other services.

The huge surprise was that every driver, even UberX, gets a iPhone 4G with Verizon (3G) service. The phone is pretty much locked down so you can’t do much more than UberX, maps and calculator. You cannot get on the App Store to get more apps and there is no internet browser you can use. Because it is on 3G Verizon service, there’s no SIM card that you can take out to use on another phone. Pretty smart. I also come to the realization that an iPhone spontaneously makes your thumb 15x bigger. I felt like a giant typing on a miniature keyboard.

Comparison

I have only driven with Lyft and UberX a handful of times so far so I can’t make a reliable comparison right now, but I will in the next few weeks when I drive more with both services. I have a few ideas on how to maximize my profits leveraging both services.

Here my thoughts on the signup process:

Lyft:

Definitely feels like a new startup. Their entire registration application takes place on your mobile phone. Use it to take a picture of you, take pictures of insurance cards, license, etc. Very easy. There is an in-person mentoring you need to sign up for. Only takes about 20 minutes or so and ran by very experience Lyft drivers. Can schedule it using the driver-mode of the Lyft application. After mentoring, you get the pink mustache and charging kits overnight (1-2 business days).

UberX:

Definitely feels like an established business with money behind it. The registration process was a bit of work as you had to scan in your vehicles registration, license and insurance information. I don’t think you needed to as you can provide this information during the in-person visit to the Uber office before you are officially signed up. There is also an online introductory course. You view some videos and take an exam in the end. The exam was a bit of a curveball as they ask you questions not covered on the course. You essentially have the facts but need to reason your way into the answers, which was a bit interesting. Hard to describe but no worry, if you fail the exam you can take it again.

They had stacks of Iphones at the UberX Boston office with cable assemblies charging 4 of them at a time. They were prepared for the NYE rush of new drivers. The office looks like a startup with just large tables and plenty of chairs.

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