Lyft is showing drivers average wait times for their next rider. At first glance, this does seem like a good thing, but there are some things drivers need to think about that we will talk about in the second section of this post that should be able to help you utilize this new feature to make more money.
First things first, where can drivers find the wait time estimates on the Lyft app?
While you can view the average wait time on your home screen, there is a way to view average wait times across the city at a glance. All you have to do is tap the menu button that contains the “Destination Mode” option and then tap “Wait times”.
If you zoom in on the screen using your fingers, you will see actual the estimated wait times
The wait times are color-coded, making it easy to determine where to go. Similar to traffic lights, green means a short wait time, yellow is a longer wait time, and red has the longest wait time between riders. It is probably safe to assume though that if there is no estimated wait time, there is simply not enough data to determine a wait time. This does not mean there are no rides. There is just simply not enough data.
Is this a game changer for drivers?
It can be if you know how to read the map properly. This area in the below screenshot was determined by the app to be a yellow/slower area. If you look above this post 1-2 minutes can be considered a high-demand area, and 4-11 minutes is a slow area.
Assuming, Lyft is giving us factual data, you can read between the lines here. The reason why this is determined to be kind of slow is that it was based on 87 rides. If you tap around the app, you will see a varying degree of a number of rides being used to determine the wait time and which category it falls in.
If you see a low number of rides, and the area is green, this can be a great indicator that a certain place is having a lot of people leave all of a sudden. This usually leads to the primetime, now called flat rate bonus (called surge on Uber) that Lyft gives as an incentive for drivers to go to a certain are because it is experiencing high demand to the number of drivers available.
Basically, if you read the wait time estimates quickly, you can make a pretty good guess that somewhere is about to surge.
With that said a huge influx of drivers will surely go to that area and expect the wait times to increase dramatically. No, Lyft is not lying to you, other drivers are showing up and taking the rides because now that area is busy. What that may actually lead to is those red areas being underserved and turning into green areas.
Because drivers will go to the busy areas by default, you are likely to see fewer of those flat rate bonuses. Sadly, most drivers won’t read between the lines and realize that an area getting busier all of a sudden will lead to a bonus. They will simply flock there to get a ride. If enough drivers stayed off the app, in “busier” areas, guess what? Lyft will issue a bonus to get more drivers online to that area. These are pretty much nonexistent nowadays anyway, despite Lyft up charging customers like crazy at times. (Lyft pockets this extra money for themselves)
Anyhow, for those that take the time to read this, I will point out that if Lyft is getting busy, so is Uber. That means that Uber will likely surge in that busy area Lyft is pointing out.
Uber, despite their checkered past, is the preferred app of drivers at this point and actually passes off a good portion of surges from the rider to the drivers, especially now that we can see upfront pricing and destination details, unlike Lyft.
If you have any other tips you would like to share, please let us know in the comments below!