How to Read Uber Passenger Surge Maps
I made this video a few months ago to show how you can watch the passenger app and see which areas will surge or increase or decrease in surge. From time to time, Uber will put in fake cars onto the passenger app so just be aware of that. I believe that the passenger app will give you the correct surge pricing. Some drivers noticed wide differences between what you see on the driver app and what you see on the passenger app. Usually, there is a delay between when the passenger app shows surge and the driver app shows surge. Remember that surge is when the passenger requests the ride, which could be a minute or two before a driver gets the request. Also, it takes time for the change in price to update on the driver app.
This works for Uber only because of the size of the surge zones and how often surge can change within a given time period (usually 5-10 minutes). It doesn’t work as well with Lyft because their surge zones are so much smaller so you can move it a block and have it change from 100% to nothing. Lyft’s Prime Time fluctuates much more than Uber’s Surge Pricing.
Here are the different surge colors as seen in the driver application (not seen in the passenger application):
- Yellow – above normal demand – this is what you can start to watch out for if you want to see if that area surges
- Orange – close to surge, so hopefully you’re near it for surge
- Red – currently surging
Strategies on reading Uber’s Passenger Map for surge:
Watch to see if surge levels go up at specific parts of the day (aim for mornings, 7am-10am, 4pm-8pm, but most surge 8am-9am, 5pm-6pm). Study this map depending on the weather and then aim to drive during specific times of day if you are available. I used to study them every morning and then if it surge, I would drive. If not, I went to work and try for the evening commute. This helped get me my $30/hr in fares during the winter and easily gave me another 8-15 hours a week of profitable hours to drive. In Boston, traffic is not has heavy inside the city early in the morning so you can get a few surged fares before ending. This situation may not exist in your city. I have heard complaints about morning traffic in a few Uber cities that makes this strategy ineffective as you end up being stuck in traffic the entire time.
A strategy that seems to work in many cities to drive the overnight hours, 3am to 9am. There are much fewer drivers at this time and there are many drivers who are just unwilling to drive those hours. It is definitely a hard schedule to keep up with but some drivers make it work and they do very well doing that.
Below is a video of what to watch for if you want to predict or track surge pricing in Uber (the video was done live but if you watch these maps for as long as I have, you can do the same easily):
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