How Much Do Uber And Lyft Drivers Really Earn?

One thing that going public does for a company that has nothing to do with investors or regulators specifically, is that it provides far more transparency into its business. Both Uber and Lyft are now public and we have the ability to see more about revenue and the overall business. That means more clarity on what drivers actually earn. For the ease of conversation, I’ve averaged the Uber and Lyft information currently available. 

The average trip is about 6 miles and lasts about 15 minutes. The average gross fare is $13.50. The average fee to the company is 30% for Uber and 20% for Lyft. That leaves just over $10 for the driver. But that’s also before gas/maintenance/wasted miles to drive to a passenger. The average net cost of 15 minutes of operating a ride-sharing vehicle is about $1.20. All in, the net is about $8.80 per passenger including tip.

This exercise gives us insight into the view of the ride-sharing possible. The most you could possibly hope to net per hour if you never had any downtime, wasted miles, etc. is $35. Of course, nothing about that is realistic. At best one could hope to remain productive about half of the time, two average rides per hour, which would net $17.60 per hour not factoring in wasted miles that may have to be driven. That means that if you were to drive an average of eight hours per day literally 365 days per year it would be possible to earn around $51,251. 

That’s of course literally working every day and not having any benefits provided. The average hourly income in the US now stands at $27.77 per hour plus benefits. To put it another way, the average ride sharing driver earns 36% less than the average employed person and lacks the healthcare coverage, 401k and vacation time provided by typical employment. A good way to make some extra money? Perhaps. An ideal way to earn a living? Clearly not. 

Photo by: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images



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