Lyft & Uber driver guide New York City

New York City Lyft & Uber Driver Guide

New York City was Uber’s first expansion outside of San Francisco, landing in the city in 2011. Lyft came on board just a few years later in 2014. Today, the market for Uber and Lyft drivers has exploded, with roughly 80,000 ridesharing vehicles in New York City.

There’s never been a better time to pick up a side gig driving Uber or Lyft in NYC. Whether you’re new to the business or you’re already an old rideshare pro, you can use this guide below to get the most out of driving Lyft or Uber in New York City. From what you need to get started to the busiest times, best locations, and helpful driving shortcuts, the tips below will help you make more money while spending less time in gridlock.

Note: Lyft (and Uber) have stopped accepting new drivers in New York City due to the recent rideshare law changes. However, you can still sign up to drive for Via in New York City.


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What Are the New Uber and Lyft Guidelines for New York City?

  • New cap regulates how many operational licenses are granted to potential Uber and Lyft drivers.
  • Cap in place for one year (through August 2019).
  • TLC will study the effects of ride-hail services in the city during the year-long cap.

As the city places its one-year limit on rideshare licenses, it becomes even more important for current Uber and Lyft drivers to understand the busiest areas of New York City and how to navigate the city streets quickly and safely.

Best Areas to Drive With Lyft or Uber in New York City

If you’re driving Uber or Lyft in New York City, the busiest areas overall are:

  • Barclays Center
  • Citi Field
  • JFK (Terminal 4)
  • LGA
  • Madison Square Garden
  • Yankee Stadium

Uber and Lyft both operate in the five boroughs of New York—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island—but Manhattan and Brooklyn see the most traffic. The Bronx is sure to have ride-hailing passengers at Fordham University (during school semesters) and Yankee Stadium.

Busiest Drive Times in Manhattan

The best areas and times in the city’s busiest borough (Manhattan) to maximize your Uber and Lyft income are:

Morning rush: 6 a.m.–10 a.m.

  • East Village
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Pennsylvania Station
  • Upper East Side
  • Upper West Side

Evening rush: 5 p.m.–8 p.m.

  • Midtown
  • Financial District
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Pennsylvania Station

Weekend rush: Thursday–Saturday nights after 9 p.m.

  • East Village
  • Lower East Side
  • West Village

Busiest Drive Times in Brooklyn

The most popular locations in Brooklyn for Uber and Lyft drivers are the same during the morning and evening traffic rushes.

Morning rush: 8 a.m.–10 a.m.

Evening rush: 5 p.m.–8 p.m.

Weekend rush: Friday-Saturday nights after 9 p.m.

  • Williamsburg
  • Downtown Brooklyn
  • Fort Greene
  • Cobble Hill
  • Prospect Heights

Uber and Lyft drivers in Queens should spend time in Jackson Heights, Long Island City, and Flushing. Staten Island drivers will find their next passenger at Wagner College or Forest Avenue in West New Brighton—super popular on the weekends thanks to the unique bars and restaurants that line the streets.

One of the busiest Uber and Lyft areas for New York City is by the Staten Island Ferry. Each day, hundreds of people commute to and from Manhattan via the ferry and need a ride once they arrive. The ferry runs every 15-30 minutes and takes about 25 minutes to go across the water.

You can expect the busiest times for people to get off the ferry at St. George Terminal between 5:25 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

Riders will need transportation to St. George Terminal each weekday morning from 6:30 a.m.–8:30 a.m. Here is a complete schedule for the Staten Island Ferry.

Uber vs. Lyft in New York City

Wondering whether you should drive Uber or Lyft? The good news is you can work on both rideshare apps simultaneously. According to a report by the New School Center for New York City Affairs and the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, the median net hourly earnings (after expenses) for Uber drivers are $14.17, and the median net hourly earnings (after expenses) for Lyft drivers are $13.85. How much you make on Lyft or Uber in New York City will depend on how much you drive, where you pick up trips, and how efficient you are with your time. Earnings for drivers on Lyft Lux/XL and Uber Select/XL are generally higher.

In terms of sign up bonuses, only Lyft currently offers sign up bonuses. Instead of bonuses, Uber switched to offering new driver earnings guarantees in early 2017.

You may also want to check out our guide on Via, another rideshare company that operates in New York City. Like Uber, they offer earnings guarantees.


Digital Tools to Help Uber and Lyft Drivers in NYC

Construction and road closures in New York City are ever-changing. Partner road work with regular Manhattan traffic, and you have a recipe for long wait times and extended routes. A few helpful tools to avoid (heavier than normal) congestion in NYC include:

Gridlock Sam’s Twitter feed: This former NYC traffic commissioner and columnist at the New York Daily News began his professional career as a New York City taxi driver, so his alerts about road closures, parking changes, and detours are legit.

Waze: Designed to help you avoid traffic hazards, the Waze app is a navigational aid that’s easy to read and alerts you to traffic accidents, police activity, and blocked roadways. The information is hyper-local and delivered in real time.

Google Maps: While Waze helps to warn you of potential delays, Google Maps is the go-to for routes and backup routes. You can also use the app to see how busy a particular area is (helping you find potential riders).

NYC Driving Shortcuts and Tips

Traffic in NYC can be overwhelming, to say the least. Though you should generally take the navigation route provided on the app, sometimes it makes more sense to opt for an alternate route that will get the passenger there faster. Use these shortcuts for New York City Uber and Lyft drivers to help you avoid traffic clusters that can slow you down and hinder your ability to make more cash:

Avoid going through Central Park during rush hour traffic, especially on 72nd Street.

If you are far enough north, you can take 110th Street as a quick route to and from the East side.

If you’ve hit traffic on your way to the JFK Airport, you can take a back route through Brooklyn to save time: Bushwick to Pennsylvania to Atlantic to Conduit Avenue.

When you have a passenger that is going downtown and you’re halfway between the FDR and West Side Highway, take FDR, as it tends to be a slightly longer route with a typically faster drive time.

When you are traveling uptown from 14th Street or above, use 1st Avenue.

If your goal is to stick around the uptown area during the day, avoid 8th Avenue and instead take 10th Avenue uptown for 40 to 50 blocks.

If you’re heading to the Upper East Side from the West after 9 p.m., try taking 56th Street, as traffic tends to be lighter here.

Steps to Drive for Uber or Lyft In NYC

Unlike other municipalities, New York City requires Uber and Lyft (and all other ride-hailing drivers) to acquire a TLC license. Here are the steps to obtain your TLC license:

  • Submit a TLC application and payment.
  • Obtain a Class E or CDL license. A certified abstract is required from your license state if different than New York.
  • Complete the TLC-required medical exam.
  • Complete the TLC driving course.
  • Complete the TLC wheelchair accessible vehicle course.
  • Complete the TLC 3 day for-hire vehicle (FHV) course. (Course fees are $175 and the final exam is $75.)
  • Pass a drug test at one of 7 TLC-approved testing centers.
  • Get fingerprinted.

Applicants can complete some of the courses free of charge at Uber’s Greenlight Hub in Long Island City. Lyft also has an office at the same location. Uber also offers assistance by appointment at their offices in Long Island City, the Bronx, or Brooklyn.

Despite the city’s limitations, Uber and Lyft are very busy giving rides to visitors and residents of New York City’s five boroughs. Lyft is currently offering a sign up bonus for new drivers, while Uber offers sign up earnings guarantees.

Driving for Uber or Lyft is a great way to make extra cash. It’s also a unique way to explore the hidden areas of your city and learn new things about the place you call home. If you’re debating which rideshare company you should drive for, check out our comparison article, but keep in mind, you can drive for both.



Via Rideshare Driver With Passenger

Via Driver: How To Drive For Via Rideshare


Last updated: [last-modified]

(Disclosure – We independently research our content to provide free advice for you. We may get compensation if you sign up with services, or purchase products through our affiliate links. We are not affiliated with or sponsored by Via Transportation.)

The rideshare industry has exploded in recent years. Lyft and Uber only seem to increase in popularity among commuters, but now there’s a new player in town—Via. The Via rideshare service is unlike any other option on the market, and as result, it’s quickly becoming a major competitor in certain markets like Chicago, London, New York and Washington, D.C. If you’re interested in becoming a Via driver, take a closer look at what the company is bringing to the table.

Currently, Via is offering up to a $2500 (Chicago, other cites have different amounts) sign up earnings guarantee. In addition, you may also receive a $30 bonus after giving your first ride!

How to Become a Via Driver

You can sign up using our referral link by clicking the button below.

Via Sign Up Bonus


What Is Via Rideshare?

Via is an on-demand rideshare service that mimics the arrangement of public transportation but without the hassle. Via provides flat rate rides to passengers along efficient preset routes, like a shuttle service.

The service is similar to other carpooling rideshare options, like Lyft Line and UberPOOL. However, instead of picking up riders that are nearby, Via’s system sets strategic pick-up locations on designated routes. It’s similar to Uber Express Pool, but with higher pay.

Unlike the other services, Via actually pays drivers more when they are matched with multiple riders along the same route.

Riders are matched to a preset trip in their current vicinity, and then they walk a short distance (usually about a block or so) to a chosen pick-up spot that’s convenient for the driver.


What Sets Via Apart From Lyft And Uber?

Via serves a niche section of the market, so it’s slightly different than other rideshare options. There are three main qualities that set Via apart from companies like Lyft and Uber:

  • Low Commssions
  • Efficiency
  • Live Support
  • Flat Rates

Via only takes a 10% commission on rides, far lower than Uber or Lyft (cities also take a cut, so the overall commission is 15-20%).

Via’s rideshare service is designed around efficiency in high density areas. Trips follow specific routes on a consistent basis, resulting in less downtime, and fewer miles on your car.

Via’s drivers have the benefit of live support through text and by phone. While Lyft has decent driver support, some drivers find Uber support to be lacking.

The rideshare company’s flat rate system offers riders an incredibly affordable travel option.

While they’re fairly simple in nature, such unique attributes are why Via is quickly becoming a true competitor in the rideshare industry.

Where is Via Available?

Currently, Via is available in the following cities:

  • Via Chicago Rideshare
  • Via NYC Rideshare
  • Via Washington D.C. Rideshare
  • Via Arlington, TX 
  • Via West Sacramento

Via also operates ViaVan, a new rideshare service they launched in London in April, 2018.

Via’s rideshare arrangement is best suited for large metropolitan areas, so you can expect them to add more markets, like Seattle and Los Angeles, in the future. However, the niche focus may not allow it to enter smaller cities.

Via Vehicle And Driver Requirements

Via’s driver requirements are similar to Uber and Lyft. All applicants must pass a criminal and driving history background check before they’re approved to drive for the company. While you can’t drive with Via in New York City until you obtain a special TLC license, the company offers a variety of resources to help you through the process with ease.

The real difference between Via and their industry counterparts is the vehicles they accept. The company has stricter vehicle requirements in place, as they hope to provide a more high-end riding experience. Non-luxury vehicles can’t be older than 2010 models, while luxury models dating back to 2005 and newer are welcomed. They prefer cars and SUVs that are black, dark grey, or dark blue with leather interiors, but they’ll accept options with fabric seating as long as they’re newer models—2014 is the cut-off.

If your vehicle is not on Via recommended list, Via encourages you to apply anyway. They may allow your vehicle even if it’s not on the list.

All Via drivers must have their vehicle inspected. The rideshare company offers reduced service prices at their partner centers, but the costs are out-of-pocket for applicants. Via Chicago drivers must also schedule a new inspection yearly to stay in the fleet.

If you don’t have a vehicle or your current model doesn’t meet the minimum criteria, you can rent or lease one. The company has partnered with a few leasing companies to allow their drivers to begin earning quickly. However, the service is currently only available in NYC.

Via Rideshare NYC Vehicle Lease


Via Driver Earnings

Via pay varies by market, but Via drivers tend to earn a bit more than Uber and Lyft drivers. According to one study, Via drivers earn 43% more than Lyft drivers and 35% more than Uber drivers.

Overall, expect to earn in the $15-$20 per hour range, with earnings above $20 per hour during peak times. Earnings for NYC, and SUV drivers, can be higher.

Full time drivers can definitely earn over $1000 a week driving for Via.

ViaBlue vs. ViaFlex

Via rideshare utilizes two earning styles: Blue and Flex.

ViaBlue is set up with an hourly earnings guarantee, so drivers are paid a guaranteed minimum per hour regardless of the number of passengers and trips they take. Based on demand, Via limits the number of drivers who can be online at once with ViaBlue.

ViaFlex does not have an hourly earnings guarantee. Other than that, it’s the same as ViaBlue.

Once the threshold for ViaBlue drivers is hit, drivers can still go online, but only in Flex mode. You still end up making the same fares per journey and incentives still apply, but you are not guaranteed to earn a certain amount per hour like you are on ViaBlue.

Via has put together a couple of short videos (there’s no sound on these two) explaining both modes.


Fare Breakdowns

Via’s driver fares are calculated based on a few different factors. These components include:

  • Base fare
  • Trip time
  • Distance

While the rider pays a flat fee, the driver’s earnings vary per trip. Each city has its own base rates. For example, Via NYC drivers are provided with a base fare of $2.55 plus $.35 per minute and $1.75 per mile.

There’s also the variable of hourly rates. If you’re operating in Blue mode and you don’t end up reaching the guaranteed amount, the company will automatically increase your payout to match. Via sets the amounts ahead of time, so you know the minimum earnings you stand to make. The rates also fluctuate throughout the day based on statistical demand, which results in higher hourly rates during peak hours.


During certain peak hours, the company offers rate hikes to encourage drivers to hit-the-road during those periods. Via will send out an alert the night before to allow drivers to plan accordingly. During Boosts, the hourly rate for drivers in Blue mode further increases, but unfortunately, Flex mode drivers don’t benefit from the perk.

Via Driver - Via Blue Boost


Via Sign Up Bonus Guarantee

The bonus guarantee program provides a safeguard for those just entering the fleet. As long as you complete the required number of trips during a preset period (usually 100 rides in 30 days), they’re guaranteed to make $1,000.

There’s also a tiered signing bonus that encourages fleet members to continue driving. With each trip milestone, you’ll receive an additional bonus. Here’s how it’s broken down:

  • 1 Ride – $30
  • 30 Rides – $70
  • 100 Rides – $300

To get your Via driver sign up bonus, start your Via application by clicking the button below (disclosure – referral link).

Join Via


Rocket Pay

As with Uber and Lyft, Via offers surge pricing, which is known as Rocket Pay. When there’s an unexpected increase in demand, the company implements increased rates for a certain period of time. Drivers that accept rides when Rocket Pay is in place receive an automatic increase in fare rates.

Sharing Premium – The Via Multiplier System

One great thing about Via is their multiplier system. Other companies’ variations of carpooling actually offer their drivers lower fares than its single-trip counterparts. Via’s rideshare arrangement does the complete opposite – drivers earn more for each passenger they pick up. The Sharing Premium is designed to multiply the trip fare when additional passengers are matched to the driver’s route. The increase is broken down like this:

  • 2 Pick-Ups – 5 percent extra.
  • 3 Pick-Ups – 10 percent extra.
  • 4 Pick-Ups – 15 percent extra.
  • 5 Pick-Ups – 20 percent extra.


As with all rideshare companies, Via takes a commission from its drivers’ earnings. While Lyft and Uber pull out 25 percent to 40 percent of each fare, Via only takes 10 percent. Therefore, drivers end up taking home way more than their industry counterparts.

Along with the 10 percent commission, the cities Via operates in also take a cut. Chicago takes out a fee of 5 percent, while NYC and Washington D.C. take an additional 10 percent. While it does cut into your overall profits, the total commision and fee charges are still less than Uber and Lyft.

How to Become a Via Rideshare Driver

If Via sounds like the perfect company for you, it’s time to apply. The application process is fairly straightforward and similar to signing up for Uber or Lyft. Here’s how to do it.

1. Create an Account

First, you need to create an account. One the main sign up page, you’ll fill in basic information, including your name, email, phone, and driving city.

Drive With Via - Application Start

2. Vehicle Information

Then, you need to provide information regarding your vehicle. If you need to rent or lease one, you can choose that option instead.

Via Driver Application - Vehicle Type

3. Your Information

Next, you’ll provide your address and bank account information, so you can get paid. You’ll also need to submit your social security number so that the rideshare company can run a background check.

Via Application - Payment Info

4. Document Upload

Finally, you’ll upload your license and insurance documents.

Drive With Via Application - Document Upload

As you can see, the process is similar to the Uber and Lyft applications, so it shouldn’t require a lot of time. If approved, you’ll also need to arrange an inspection for your vehicle. After you’re given the all-clear, you can hit the road, but you’ll need to download the driver app first—it’s available on the iTunes Store and Google Play.

If you live in Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., West Sacramento, or Arlington, TX, then you can click the button below (disclosure – referral link) to start your Via application and get your sign up bonus guarantee.

If you’re not in one of those cities, don’t worry. Via’s success thus far has already turned heads, so they should begin expanding to even more markets in the near future.


Drive With Via


Driving For Via: A Video Walkthrough

Here’s a great video explainer Via that walks through what driving for Via is like. The video uses a tablet for an example, but driving for Via works the same if you’re using a phone. Also, be aware – this is a detailed video, so it’s about 17 minutes long.