Uber & Lyft San Francisco Driver Guide

San Francisco Lyft & Uber Guide

San Francisco Lyft & Uber Guide

Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber are only getting more and more popular, especially in big cities, where owning a personal vehicle can be more of a hassle than a blessing. Out of all the cities in the U.S., San Francisco is the favorite when it comes to ride-hailing services, logging more than 75 million trips in 2017.

Whether your fares are tourists, commuters, or pub-crawlers, San Francisco can be an intriguing and profitable city to drive in for Uber or Lyft.

To maximize your earning potential as a Lyft or Uber driver, it’s essential to know the ins and outs of driving in San Francisco. This guide will hopefully help you navigate the crowded streets of San Francisco like a pro in no time.

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Where Are the Best Areas to Drive Uber or Lyft in San Francisco?

If you’re looking to maximize your income driving for Uber or Lyft in San Francisco, head over to these hot spots.

The Peninsula

From commuters to night-time hotspots, focus on these areas:

  • Downtown San Francisco
  • Mission District
  • North Beach
  • Pacific Heights

East Bay

These areas are big during the morning and evening commutes, as people often take advantage of Lyft and Uber to fill the gap between BART stops and their final destinations:

  • Berkeley
  • Oakland
  • Hayward
  • Fremont

South Bay

Like the East Bay, the South Bay is also ripe for fares during commute hours. Stake out your place near Caltrain stations in:

  • San Mateo
  • Palo Alto/Mountain View
  • San Jose

North Bay

Rush hour in Marin County can be a boon for Uber and Lyft drivers, but the real money is in weekends in the wine country. Head over to these locations for lighter traffic, hot fares, and beautiful scenery:

  • Santa Rosa
  • Petaluma
  • Napa Wine Region (focus on HWY 29 and Silverado Trail)
  • Sonoma (hang out around Broadway and W. Napa)
  • Vallejo
  • San Rafael
  • Larkspur
  • Mill Valley
  • Tiburon
  • Marin City
  • Sausalito

When Are the Best Times to Drive Lyft or Uber in San Francisco?

The most successful Uber and Lyft drivers tend to driver when it’s busy to take advantage of Uber’s Surge and Lyft’s Prime Time pricing. Hit the road during these peak times and take some time for yourself in the hours between.

The Peninsula

The best times to drive in San Francisco proper are:

  • Weekdays – 7:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
  • Friday/Saturday – 7:00 p.m.–2:00 a.m.
  • Sunday – 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.

Along the Embarcadero, you can find tired tourists in need of transport every weekend and on just about any day during the summer. Keep track of Giants games as well, for ample opportunities to make some extra cash.

East Bay

The best times to drive in the East Bay are:

  • Weekdays – 8:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday through Saturday – 8:00 p.m.–2:00 a.m.

Keeping up with UC Berkeley happenings can be advantageous for Uber and Lyft drivers. Sporting events, freshmen days, family weekends, and graduation are great times to hit the road.

South Bay

The best times to drive in the South Bay are:

  • Weekdays – 7:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
  • Friday/Saturday – 7:00 p.m.–2:00 a.m.

Trips from SFO to the South Bay can be lucrative, especially during weekends or counter-commute, but avoid being on the wrong side of the freeway during rush hour.

North Bay

The best times to drive in the North Bay are:

  • Weekdays – 7:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. (Marin County).
  • Weekends – All day (Napa/Sonoma).

Weekends in the wine country can be beautiful and rewarding. Don’t forget to stock those bottles of water and snacks for passengers enjoying the local wines.

San Francisco Traffic – Uber and Lyft Routing Tips and Shortcuts

San Francisco’s narrow, one-way streets, steep hills, and regulatory hurdles can pose obstacles to lucrative driving experiences. Here are some pro tips to keep you moving and out of trouble:

  1. Timed green lights – Maintaining speeds of 20-25 mph will enable you to hit green lights all the way down:
    1. Fell Street – westbound
    2. Oak Avenue – eastbound
    3. Pine Street – westbound
    4. Bush Street – eastbound
    5. Franklin Street – northbound
    6. Gough Street – southbound
    7. The Great Highway – both directions
  2. Take the slalom path – Staying in center lanes, where available, can keep you moving steadily towards your destination. Where center lanes are not an option, watch for turning cars and make safe lane changes back and forth to avoid slow-downs.
  3. Watch for transit lanes – While many roads forbid left-hand turns, streets like Market and Mission have additional limited left turns, as well as mandatory right turns between 14th and Ceasar Chazez. Keep your eyes open to avoid unanticipated detours.
  4. CalTrain – Avoid the bus stop on 4th, and you’ll avoid a $300 ticket – opt instead for pick-ups and drop-offs at Bluxome or Townsend.
  5. AT&T Park – During special events, the city closes the roads around the field. Avoid congestion by dropping off and picking up north of the field near Pier 40 or south by Berry and 4th
  6. Civic Center Bart – Pick up and drop off on the white-curbed area around McAllister and 7th or Grove and 8th.
  7. Opt for long drives on the weekends – Longer rides are a great way to boost earnings as an Uber or Lyft driver. Try to take pickups from the airport to increase your chances for a longer ride with less traffic than weekdays would afford.
  8. Use your filters – Set your destination filters away from heavy traffic, like HWY 101 to ensure you’re making the most of your drive time.
  9. Chat up the tourists – San Francisco is a major tourist destination, so be sure to brush up on interesting local tidbits – your fares will appreciate the information and may tip you more than they normally would.

Uber and Lyft Airport Dropoffs and Pickups in San Francisco

There are three major airports in the San Francisco Bay Area that you’ll want to be familiar with – San Francisco International (SFO), Oakland International (OAK), and San Jose International (SJC). Be sure to stay up-to-date with unique requirements for Lyft and Uber drivers.

In general, you will want to keep these tips in mind when dropping off or picking up Uber or Lyft passengers:

  • Each airport will have specific wait areas for Lyft and Uber drivers.
  • Identify in advance the places you are legally allowed to drop off or pick up passengers.
  • You must display your Uber or Lyft tradedress (decals, lights, etc.) when at the airport.
  • You must maintain online status on your Uber or Lyft apps while at the airport.
  • Both Lyft and Uber maintain a “First In First Out” policy (FIFO), so if there are tons of drivers already queued, you may want to move to another area of town.

Is It Better to Sign Up for Uber or Lyft in San Francisco?

There are pros and cons to driving for both Uber and Lyft. Most drivers maximize their profits by driving for both companies. While Uber was first in the market, San Francisco-born Lyft is the clear choice amongst Bay Area riders and drivers.

With that said, both Uber and Lyft offer competitive signing bonuses and guarantees for drivers who hustle. You can maximize your income by taking advantage of heat maps, surge and prime time pricing, and ensuring you provide added value by passing on useful information, engaging conversation, or tasty snacks. A little customer service can go a long way.

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