San Diego Lyft & Uber Guide
Driving for Lyft and Uber can be a great way to make a living in sunny San Diego. With its decent year-round weather and ample hot spots, San Diego rideshare drivers have brought in over $500 million in revenue in 2017.
Want a piece of that action? Check out this San Diego rideshare driver guide for insider advice on how to drive like a pro and maximize your income as an Uber or Lyft driver. With Lyft and Uber offering lucrative sign-on bonuses or four-figure driver guarantees, San Diego is a prime spot to begin your rideshare career or side-gig.
There’s even a third rideshare option in San Diego if you already drive for Uber or Lyft. It’s called Bounce, and their platform allows riders to choose their favorite drivers, and request them again.
Where Are the Best Areas to Drive Uber or Lyft in San Diego?
The best way to ensure four-figure weekly earnings with Uber or Lyft is to make a lot of pick-ups each day. So naturally, you’ll want to focus on the busiest spots in San Diego. Pick one of these hot spots and get started.
- The Gaslamp Quarter
- Pacific Beach
- San Diego International Airport
- University City (one of the busiest parts of town midweek, especially on Lyft)
- La Jolla
- Downtown San Diego
- Del Mar
San Diego Happy Hour and Weekend Destinations
If you’re not already in-the-know about local San Diego hangouts, get familiar with what’s hot and start your Friday evenings near one of these:
- Rustic Root (Gaslamp)
- PB Shore Club (Pacific Beach)
- C-Level (Harbor Island)
- House of Blues (Downtown)
- Omnia Night Club (Gaslamp)
- Balboa Park
Don’t ignore the universities and beaches, which can be highly profitable on weekends and Thursday and Friday nights.
Drivers in San Diego can get base access through the DBIDS program. This allows a driver to do drop-offs and pickups on the Camp Pendleton Military Base. The Camp Pendleton area can get pretty busy, and Lyft usually offers a fair number of pickup bonuses in that area during the week and weekend.
When Are the Best Times to Drive Lyft or Uber in San Diego?
Knowing where to be is only half the battle. You’ve also got to know when to be there! If you can, split up your day, focusing on rush hours at the beginning and end of the day.
- Weekdays – 8:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday nights – 7:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m.
- Sundays – 11:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
As you can see, San Diego almost never sleeps, making it an optimal spot to drive for Uber or Lyft.
San Diego Traffic Routing Tips and Shortcuts
Like any city, navigating in San Diego successfully requires local knowledge. Using Waze as a navigational tool is a great start. Ready to go? Navigate to Encinitas for the pub-crawl route.
PCH Pub Crawl
For maximum profitability, be sure to head over to the Pacific Coast Highway after 6 p.m. on any given day. Between Encinitas and Del Mar, there is a high density of nightlife spots -with minimal stoplights and congestion. Curbside pick-ups and drop-offs allow for easy in-and-out access. Once you’ve made it into Del Mar, head up Birmingham Drive towards the I-5, making stops at the myriad train stops in Encinitas and Solana Beach.
Downtown San Diego Party Spots
On your way down to San Diego, you might as well hit the airport off of I-5 and North Harbor Drive. Once you get close to the airport, your queue timer will appear in the app. If it reads more than 10-15 minutes, skip it and head back downtown. Start on Market Street, avoiding 5th (near Petco Park)—you’ll hit too much traffic. If you use 1st and 6th Avenues as your borders, you can wind your way through downtown, picking up and dropping off scores of riders all night long.
Pro tip: If you find yourself with a request near 4th and 5th avenues below W. Broadway, cancel—it’s likely not worth your time.
University Party Central
If you like the party crowd, they can be found in these fine neighborhoods:
- University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard (between I-5 and the 805)
- Mission Hills
- University Heights
- North Park
These folks tend to prefer Lyft over other rideshare apps and tip better than you might expect. Stick to 30th Street for the best results.
You Might Want to Avoid…
If you’re averse to patrons puking in your vehicle and general mayhem in the streets, you may want to avoid Pacific Beach. And, while La Jolla might boast a tamer crowd, its geographical location makes it difficult to get in and out of, resulting in a high amount of minimum fare requests. With all the other, more profitable options available to you, it may be wise to just skip this part of San Diego.
Uber & Lyft Airport Dropoffs and Pickups in San Diego
San Diego International Airport (SAN) is one of the pickier airports in California when it comes to accommodating rideshare drivers. Here are some pro tips for navigating this travel hub while staying out of hot water:
- One rideshare company at a time please—SAN prohibits rideshare drivers from working for more than one rideshare company at a time while on the premises. Pick one and keep that app open at all times.
- Display proper trade dress—If you choose to work through Uber, then you must display proper Uber decals on the front passenger windshield and the rear passenger windshield—both facing outward.
- No old vehicles—SAN requires all rideshare vehicles to be less than 10 years old.
- Keep to the wait zone—At SAN, this area is behind the Airport Cell Phone Lot near North Harbor Drive.
- Know your pick-up areas—Both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 have designated pickup zones, but beware—you must pull a ticket, pick up your rider, and be out within 10 minutes, otherwise, you must pay fees.
- Obey the FIFO queue—Both Uber and Lyft drivers are subject to the SAN “First In First Out” (FIFO) policy. Once you are within the FIFO zone, you are placed in the queue. If you leave the queue, you lose your place.
The one great thing about SAN is that you can drop passengers off curbside. Eager for extra tips? Consider helping your riders with their luggage.
Is It Better to Sign Up for Uber or Lyft in San Diego?
Both Uber and Lyft are popular rideshare companies in San Diego. While Uber is bigger overall, Lyft has seen tremendous growth over the past few years and boasted more than 400 million rides in San Diego in 2017 alone. Regardless of personal opinions over Lyft or Uber, most rideshare drivers work with both companies. You never know if some snag will bring an app down for a few hours, or if a problem with paperwork may leave you out of commission for a few weeks.
Which San Diego Neighborhoods Favor What Rideshare App?
It may seem strange, but there are certain neighborhoods that favor Lyft over Uber and vice versa. Here’s the breakdown of Team Lyft neighborhoods in San Diego:
- Mission Hills
- University Heights
- Pacific Beach
- Seaport Village
- Balboa Park
- Torrey Pines
- Solano Beach
- Chula Vista
- Del Mar
San Diego State and UCSD have partnered with Lyft to provide discounted rides for students.
Who Makes More, San Diego Lyft or Uber Drivers?
Drivers for Lyft and Uber generally earn between $15 and $20 an hour. If you approach things strategically, part-time drivers can increase that hourly rate to $20-$26 per hour, working just evenings and weekends.
The one key difference in income between Lyft and Uber is tipping. Lyft has had a tipping feature in its app since inception, while Uber added the feature later in the game. The result? Uber patrons aren’t in the habit of tipping drivers. Lyft riders, on the other hand, are not only a little more used to tipping, but tend to tip more per ride than Uber riders.
When it comes to driver experience, most drivers prefer Lyft over Uber—two-thirds, in fact. Nationally, Lyft drivers earn about $2 more than Uber drivers. However, Uber is still slightly busier in many cities. While Lyft and Uber earnings are probably similar in San Diego, Lyft is still offering a San Diego sign up bonus. Uber has switched to an earnings guarantee.