Switching Cars

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Lyft is a fun experiment. How much can I actually make with it? How much taxes will I end up paying and will I end up getting that money back in write-offs? How long can I drive before I get bored and want to go home?

These are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself since I started driving with Lyft. While taxi companies aren’t thrilled with the competition, in my area it’s much too expensive to call a cab to come over and take you somewhere. I imagine you have to pay to have the driver come to your house including the fare. With Lyft, you don’t have to do that!

Lyft is not only convenient for riders, it’s also pretty nice for drivers too. Yesterday the “schedule pickup” feature finally became available in my area, yay! Thanks to the new driver only app, I can now see if there are any pre-determined routes to snatch up. Riders have been able to pre-schedules routes, but now I have access to them ahead of time too!

Normally you have to “go online” and drive around waiting for someone to pop up on your screen needing a ride. Now you can start your shift by looking at a list of scheduled rides. I got to try it out yesterday and it worked out great in my electric car since I knew what range I was going to need. Of course, I didn’t tap to go offline after that ride so I ended up getting another route during my first trip, waiting for me when I was done with my scheduled ride. I drove my LEAF until I was at about 44% battery power and made it home at about 33%. I definitely was fine starting with only a 80%.

It’s the first time that reality set in, making me think that this could actually work out pretty well.  I don’t see myself driving 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, though it’s possible I could do that. Here’s the busy times in my area:

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If I just drive mornings and afternoons M-F, I could see some decent profits. However, in my electric car, I would have to charge in between shifts. It’s doable, if I started with 100% charge I should be able to drive 7-9am. Still, what if someone wants to go farther than 10-20 miles? I might have to charge after, which would mean finding a quick charge station or sitting for an hour or so at a slower charging station. Then there is always the small chance of getting a ride that goes farther than my range would allow.

So, to solve these issues, I’m going to start driving my brother’s 2016 Ford Escape instead of my Nissan LEAF. My EV will stay home and be my off duty car, so the Ford will be my company car! Mom helped me fill it up today, putting in 11 gallons of gas for about $32. Less than I was expecting. According to the car, it has a 266 mile range. Of course this is just an estimation, but still it seems like it won’t be as costly as I thought.

I’ve driven the car a couple of times now. It’s a bit of an adjustment. The car has a lot of power, so it’s a bit tricky to get used to the acceleration. And of course there’s the fact that I’ll be driving with gas instead of electricity. It’s just a different experience. However, the interior of the Ford is nice and I think not having the range anxiety is going to make driving with Lyft much easier. The Escape get’s about 22 miles per gallon, which isn’t great, so I don’t know how much that will cut into my profits. I’d really prefer to drive a hybrid.

So the Lyft experiment is changing drastically. I think this will help me feel more comfortable driving longer, once I’m ready to do so. I’m going to work towards driving a couple of hours a day, 5 days a week, hopefully in the morning hours during prime time hours. I also may buy a phone just for Lyft driving. It’s ironic that I’m trying this out as a job since I’ve never been a fan of driving. I’d rather be the passenger! However, making my own hours, driving a car I’m familiar, help make it easier.

Need a Lyft?

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Clever title eh? Okay, probably not, haha. However, yesterday I gave Lyft another shot, but not as a rider, as a driver. Back in February, I signed up to be a driver for the ride share company. The process was pretty painless, though the inspection mistaken a warning light in my car as a problem, I’m guessing it was regarding the parking brake. My car runs fine, so it was probably just someone not familiar with the Nissan LEAF.

The first time I started driving, it was a good experience. I had a friendly passenger who say in the front seat. The next two didn’t go quite as well. My second rider wasn’t terribly happy when I missed a turn, totally my bad, but wasn’t upset. My third ride was really short and went okay, but I forgot to unlock the doors!

Still, my little mistakes weren’t too bad, obviously. With Lyft and Uber, drivers use the app to get their rides and to see where to take them. Lyft doesn’t allow you to use their app for navigation, instead opting for a third-party app. Right when I got started with Lyft, they dropped Apple Maps support, which was disappointing, but I still had the choice between Waze and Google Maps. I’ve tried both, but I feel more comfortable with Google.

After my third ride, I let my anxiety get the best of me and gave up on Lyft. I’ve been out of work for several years (excluding my freelance writing job I had last year) and so the idea of having a regular job is kind of scary. However, I’ve still been looking at my options, applying to several jobs over the past few weeks.

Why go back to Lyft? When I make a mistake, I take it hard, so sometimes I need some distance from it. I think that was the case with Lyft. I also am working on handling my mistakes rationally, which doesn’t always work. I think it’s worth testing my fears of messing up and at least yesterday I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong. I did forget to unlock the doors with my first ride and I joked that I didn’t want him to leave! We had quite the rapport and represents the friendliness that I think a lot of Lyft riders have.

I don’t know if Lyft will become a steady job for me, but I do think I can do more with it than I originally thought in my electric car. For now, this is just going to be a way to deal with social anxiety and make a little spending money. I’m still going to look for a part-time job.

A new exciting feature coming for drivers is the ability to pick rides. Soon, drivers may get a list of rides that are scheduled in advance. I could then see what routes are available and what distance I would be traveling. Yesterday I gave two rides one after the other, and they were both local. I was happy that I didn’t have to drive far to get my riders.