You always find out what you loved about a job after it is taken from you. Rideshare driving has for the most part been taken away from drivers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Just after the country went into lockdown, 92% of drivers told Ridester.com that they had lost 80% or more of their income — literally overnight. Every major source of business for rideshare drivers was shut down. The commutes to and from work were mostly eliminated as many workers were told to work from home while others lost their jobs completely, sometimes after their companies closed down altogether.
Another major source of work for rideshare drivers was after-work and nighttime activities such as trips to and from restaurants and bars. And, trips to and from sporting events and concerts were a major source of work, as well.
The bulk of remaining work for rideshare drivers came from airport trips. But these trips were completely cut off for a time, and even today are only at about 25% of their normal levels.
Each of these three sources of business represented about a third of the trips Uber and Lyft drivers received. And all of these sources were almost completely shut down for several weeks beginning in the middle of March.
Now, and for the first time ever, we’re hearing comments from drivers telling us what they loved about driving for Uber and Lyft. In the past, it was pretty much all complaints. It’s not that they didn’t have plenty of reasons to complain – they did. Uber and Lyft both were very good at supplying drivers with plenty of reasons.
But now that the work has been taken away, drivers are starting to realize there were actually some things they loved about it and now miss, which highlights some of the great things about these driving gigs.
A decent part-time income
Driving for Uber and Lyft can be two very different experiences depending on why you’re doing it.
People who drive for Uber and Lyft as a full-time job, which slightly more than half do, and derive all of their income from this work, have a very different experience than those who drive part-time and already have a job where they earn enough to pay their basic living expenses.
For those who do it part-time, and don’t have to rely on it as their sole source of income, the experience has been far more positive than for those who rely on it as their primary source of income.
Part-timers don’t have to worry as much about whether or not they’ll earn enough on any given day to make ends meet. They don’t have to worry if they’ll earn enough to make next month’s rent or mortgage payment, because if they don’t, they have that other job. For part-timers, the work is nearly stress-free — or, I should say, as stress-free as it can get. For part-timers, whether they earn a little or a lot, it’s extra money for them.
For drivers who would have a car whether they drove for Uber and Lyft or not, anything they earn can be used to help defray the expenses of the car. And once their car is paid for, anything they have left over can be used for other things. Many part-timers use the extra money for fun things like vacations or entertainment.
One driver told us that his primary job pays him well enough to meet all his basic living expenses, but his work driving for Uber pays for a very nice annual vacation for him and his wife. He said without the Uber earnings, they would never be able to afford a vacation at all. All his Uber earnings go to a bank account set aside for that purpose. One year they spent two weeks in Hawaii – something they had always wanted to do. Another time, they took a seven-day cruise, something he said would not have been possible if he only had his primary income.
Driving gives retirees the perfect excuse to get out of the house — and talk to people
Surprising to us, it turns out a large percentage of Uber and Lyft drivers are over 50. Many are in their 60s and 70s as well. Many of these retirees have told us the one thing they love about driving is that it simply gives them something to do — or, in other words, a reason to get out of the house. They’ve told us that, without their rideshare driving, they would just sit at home day after day, bored out of their minds. They want to go out, but without any particular reason for doing so, they often don’t.
These retirees, more than younger rideshare drivers, tell us they really enjoy the interactions they have with the riders. It’s a great way for them to be able to get out and socialize with a lot of different people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
Freedom and flexibility
There’s one thing everybody loves about rideshare driving and gig work in general: flexibility. With flexibility comes freedom … Freedom to set your own schedule and work on your own terms. Freedom to take care of the other things you need to take care of in life. Freedom to work other jobs.
Flexibility is the one major draw rideshare driving has going for it. Many workers are even willing to sacrifice better paying jobs for that flexibility.
For many people, making a living, while of course a necessity, isn’t the most important thing in their lives. Making as much money as possible isn’t the driving force in their lives.
For a huge amount of Uber and Lyft drivers, family is the primary concern. Often, drivers have not only some responsibility to contribute to the family’s income, but also for other things, like picking the kids up at school. Many drivers have told us that one of their children suffers from some kind of disability that requires an intense commitment of time on the part of at least one of the parents. But that parent may also need to work part-time to add to the family’s income. Rideshare driving gives them a good way to arrange their working schedule around the needs of their children.
There are also college students who drive for Uber and Lyft, and it gives them the perfect way to tailor their income-earning opportunities around their school and study schedules.
In the end, it is the flexibility and freedom that draws so many millions of people to rideshare driving and other forms of gig work. There are more people today than ever before who care more about people, hobbies and other interests outside of work than they do about work itself. Rideshare driving gives them the perfect way to devote time to those other things while earning an income at the same time.