Rideshare Apps Travel Tips

5 Ways to Improve Your Rideshare Experience

Most of us use rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft throughout our travels or even on a daily basis. It’s incredibly convenient to pull out your phone, order a ride, and have a driver pick you up in a nice clean car within minutes. The fact that Uber and Lyft rides are often cheaper than cabs is an added bonus. Yet, there are a few things most passengers could be doing to improve their experience as well as that of their drivers. After years of using Uber and Lyft and chatting with various drivers, I’ve come up with five ways to make the rideshare experience more pleasant for everyone:

Uber cars lined up in a parking lot

1. Know where the airport pickup area is. Most rideshare companies are now cleared to pick up passengers at airports. The only stipulation is that passengers must be picked up in designated areas. It’s important to figure out the designated rideshare pickup area before requesting your ride. Why? Because most airports don’t really offer a place for drivers to stop, and once the driver misses his/her pickup, they’ll have to loop back around and that could take a long time. It’s just less of a hassle you figure out where you’re supposed to go and request a ride while walking to the designated pickup area (or once you arrive, depending on how far away the drivers is). Besides, making a driver wait a long time is not going to make for a pleasant rideshare experience.

Some airports still don’t allow Uber and Lyft drivers to pick up passengers. At these places, you may have to leave the immediate area or the driver might pick you up in the departures area instead. Either way, be aware of what your rideshare company’s airport pickup policy and pickup area is, and you’ll be in for an overall more pleasant experience.

2. If you have a lot of bags get a big car. This seems like a no-brainer but you have no idea how many times I’ve seen three people try to stuff six bags into a tiny Prius. I think some people just don’t take their luggage into consideration when requesting a Lyft or Uber ride. Rather than requesting a car based on the number of people you’re riding with, take your luggage into consideration. Order an SUV if you have more luggage than a sedan can handle. Your driver will appreciate it and you won’t have to hail a second car. 

3. Enter your pickup location manually. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are notoriously bad at estimating location accuracy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had drivers pick me up across the street because the app pinpointed my location wrong. That’s not a big deal if you’re out in the suburbs but if you’re in a busy area of a major city with one-way streets where cars can’t stop for more than a couple of seconds, it’s a real hassle. Whether you’re using a rideshare app in NYC or out in the suburbs, don’t depend on the rideshare app to pinpoint your location correctly. Type it into the app yourself. In fact, I would go a step further by waiting in front of a noticeable landmark and entering its name into the app rather than an address.

4. Don’t request a pickup from a main street. A couple of years ago I worked on a project in San Francisco for a week. I would take BART into the city, then hail an Uber ride on Market Street. Finally, a driver told me in the nicest way possible that when passengers wait on Market Street, it makes life hell for them. Why? Because its a busy street and there’s no place for drivers to stop without holding up traffic. I learned that in general, it’s a bad idea to request a pickup from a main street in a large city. Instead, move over to a side street and ask your driver to pick you up there. The driver will find you more easily, traffic moves along, and no one gets a ticket, leading to a more pleasant rideshare experience for everyone.

5. Tip the Driver. Not only do services like Uber and Lyft offer convenience and a superior experience to taxi cabs, but they are dirt cheap. Drivers are totally ripped off and treated like dirt – and I hear that from Uber drivers way more than Lyft. They take a huge chunk of their earnings and Uber in particular has started forcing drivers to accept Uber Pool rides, cutting down on their earnings even more.

While there’s some debate about whether it’s necessary to tip Uber drivers, I always do. Fares are almost unreasonable low and I get way better service and nicer cars. I can spare $2 and frankly, those Uber and Lyft drivers deserve it more than the mediocre restaurant waiter I have to tip because custom demands it. Tipping your driver also generally leads to a higher score. Not that I care about my Uber rider score, but if you do, this is one surefire way to get it up.

Do you have any tips for improving your next Uber or Lyft rideshare experience?

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  1. I’ve also heard from Uber drivers how important it is for riders to give them 5 stars – not 4 stars just because it’s early in the morning and you’re grumpy. If their average drops below 5 stars they get a hard time from Uber. I wasn’t even aware of the rating system at first. Now I make a point of telling the drivers that I’m giving them 5 stars and they really seem to appreciate it.

    • I think they get dropped from the system if their rating goes below 4.5. It takes nothing away from me to just give the driver 5 stars, so I always do (except for this one truly horrible ride where I had to give 3). I never thought to tell them that I’m giving them 5 stars, but it seems sensible – especially for passengers who want to get 5 stars in return.

  2. As a driver myself, I like and welcome it when passengers initiate a conversation instead of completely ignoring me. Here are some other tips.

    Also after the trip, while exiting the car, please close the door gently.

    Please don’t leave empty water bottles, chewing gum wrappers etc in the car.

    Please don’t down rate the driver for not offering you water, soda, candy, gum, beer, Video etc. These things are not free and eats into the drivers’ already low margin.

    Please understand if the driver refuses pickup if you’re visibly drunk. When someone throws up in the car, uber/lyft etc pay a cleaning fee, but that doesn’t account for lost time. Alcohol makes otherwise sane people behave like idiots.

    If your Uber/Lyft car is a stick shift, consider tipping the driver, especially if there was a lot of traffic.

    Do down rate the driver if there is a very good reason to do so.

    • Thanks for the insight! I think its ridiculous when people expect snacks. My younger brother did Uber briefly while looking for a post-college job and about half the time someone would get into this car and go, “Do you have any snacks?” Like, what is this – preschool? I always just assumed drivers didn’t want to talk to people because they deal with so many of them. I usually leave it to them to start a conversation if that’s what they want.

  3. I can’t go along with the suggestion of tipping extra for stick shift drivers. You wanted to get a stick shift, in fact, in 2017 you almost certainly had to go to extra effort to get a car with a stick shift, I see no reason why I as a passenger should reward you extra for your choice.

  4. I’ve never tipped an Uber driver because I thought all the cost, with tip, was already included. One of the things I love most about Uber is that it’s seamless. My credit card is on file and I don’t have to do anything for the ride. I rarely carry cash these days because I do everything with a credit card. If the app allows extra for a tip I would do so with certain drivers, but I’m not aware of any such thing.

    As for snacks and water, I’ve never even heard of this! I’ve never thought to ask a taxi driver for a snack, so why would I ask an Uber driver? I can’t believe people are doing this.

    I usually give a 5 star rating, though once I gave a 3 for an extremely reckless driver.

    • I think the whole tip-included thing is a remnant from the days when Uber only operated black cars. Now that they’ve got UberX, it’s kind of ridiculous to tell people these super low fares include tips. I understand your point of view – not having to carry cash is a huge convenience of using rideshare apps. That’s why I prefer Lyft to Uber – they allow users to include a tip.

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