There have been many changes on the Uber and Lyft platforms this year, especially in markets that didn’t previously have Uber Pro.  Uber finally rolled out Pro to all markets and Lyft eliminated the percent based Prime Time” that they had been using, in favor of a personal power zone with a flat rate surge.  What do these changes mean for us?

Uber Pro rolled out in the Grand Rapids market in August. It consists of a tier-reward based program that rewards drivers for good ratings, high acceptance rates, and low cancellation rates.  Blue is the base line that everyone gets. From their you can work your way up to gold, platinum, and diamond, with the best perks for diamond drivers. The biggest frustration for many of us is the high acceptance rate qualifier.  85% or better is a tough acceptance rating when you aren’t willing to go more than 10 minutes to pick passengers up. You also must maintain a 4.85 rating and a less than 4% cancellation rate, as well as take enough rides to rack up the necessary points to earn and keep your status.

Here is the big question, is it worth it?  I know I have asked myself, is it worth taking a ride further away occasionally to keep my acceptance rating up.  I know we’ve all been burned by driving 15 minutes to a pickup to take the passenger on a 2-minute ride. As of now, the jury is still out on the value of the program.  As a platinum driver, I was receiving a 12% cash back bonus on my gas purchases with the Uber debit card but that is changing this week. I think that is was just a summer program. It’s going down to 3%. Even with all the gas I use I am not sure if 3% cash back is worth the extra time in the car without a passenger.  

There are also a few other rewards, but the only one that speaks to me is the time/direction notification when rides pop up.  That is a great feature. They do offer up to 25% off car maintenance and free roadside assistance, but those are perks you really aren’t likely to use much more than 1-2 times a year. The tuition coverage is only for online education and the vacation giveaway only benefits the small handful of people who win. I do appreciate that Uber is trying to do something, although its not something drivers want (more money on each ride!).  

Lyft is also changing their program, but we don’t really have many details on that yet.  They did Nerf the surge this month, replacing it with a nonsensical personal power zone system. Basically, you sit in a highlighted area and earn a bonus.  The longer you sit, the higher the bonus. But if it is busy enough to cause a bonus to happen, you aren’t going to be sitting. So really the opportunity to achieve the maximum bonus is next to nothing if it’s a busy night.  So much for double and triple fares.  

The kicker about Lyft’s change is the lack of fare-adjustment.  On Uber if you take a ride with, for example, a $5 surge on it and end up taking them a long-distance, Uber will credit you some of the surge price the passenger was charged on top of the $5.  This was a great way to keep drivers from rejecting 20+ minute trips during surge times. Why take one 20-minute ride for +$5 when you can take 4 5-minute rides for +$5 each? Lyft is not doing this, however.  If you are awarded a $3.89 that is all you get, even on a 45+ ride. 

Lyft did announce that accelerate rewards are being done with and as soon as we find out the replacement, we will update you all on it.  

Until then my motivation to drive for Lyft at all is gone with this new surge model. It’s just not worth it for me.

If you are interested in driving for Uber click here and for Lyft click here.