Now might be the time to get into ride-share driving.
“Earnings are at all time highs” Lyft execs said about driver pay on Tuesday’s earnings call, where ironically the San Francisco-based company’s profits were anything but high for the start of 2021.
There are more riders than drivers on the Lyft app these days, especially as more people received the COVID vaccination and pandemic restrictions started easing up in March and April. Coupled with drivers switching over to food delivery, people requesting trips may have noticed longer wait times to be matched with a ride that costs more than before the pandemic.
Drivers on the platform are making more money than ever before — especially when compared to the start of the pandemic where there were too many drivers and not enough passengers.
Gridwise, a ride-share driver data firm, found that between a driver shortage, pricier rides for passengers, and plenty of incentives from the ride-hailing company, median earnings were up last month. Even just comparing April to March, earnings per trip jumped from $12.76 to $13.63. And compared to the 2020 average of $10.07, that’s more than a 35 percent increase for April 2021.
Breaking this down to earnings per hour, April numbers were at a record high according to Gridwise: $24.89. That’s up nearly 47 percent compared to 2020’s average $16.86 per hour.
Lyft leadership said on Tuesday’s call that some cities are seeing drivers bring in up to $35 per hour on average. “Driver earnings have been up meaningfully,” another Lyft exec repeated. Meaningfully means these recent highs are more than the highest driver rates before the pandemic.
This is prompting Lyft to pump up marketing to snag new drivers. It’s also a chance to lure drivers back from safer food delivery gigs, a service Lyft doesn’t provide. One exec claimed ride-sharing brings in more money and tips and has a social element you can’t find with a burger and fries in the back seat.
Incentives thrown at drivers helped contribute to such big payouts. Gridwise found March 2021 had the biggest increases in pay incentives, up as much as 344 percent from January 2021 offers.
Lyft doesn’t expect the rider-driver imbalance to continue forever. In the coming months more drivers will be vaccinated “… and feeling more comfortable getting back behind the wheel.” Then both drivers and riders can expect to see prices and pay inch closer to “normal,” whatever that is anymore.