Rideshare Drivers Are Seeing Tips That Won’t Even Cover a Cup of Coffee- Prime Example of Declining Driver Pay

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jun 13, 2024

Rideshare drivers for popular companies like Uber and Lyft have been asking for fair pay for years. But unfortunately, it seems that the many protests have done nothing to change their wages.

In fact, many drivers are now reporting that they are making even less money than they were before. Several drivers from around the country claim that they are now making less than $3, or a cup of coffee, for 10-minute rides, which after costs is far less than minimum wage.

How Much Do Rideshare Drivers Get Paid?

There has been an ongoing discussion regarding just how much rideshare drivers get paid. Because the various companies, like Uber and Lyft, have such complex algorithms, it’s nearly impossible to say exactly how much drivers make.

A rideshare driver smiles while speaking to a passenger in the backseat

Source: iStock

Drivers’ wages change throughout different times of the day, the pick up and drop off locations, the town or city they work in, the day of the week, and even time of the year.

The Price Riders Pay Is Not What Drivers Get Paid

Though it’s important to understand that the price a rider sees on the app is absolutely not what the driver gets paid. A large percentage of that fee goes directly to the company, and drivers are paid the small remainder.

More than a dozen people hold signs at a protest for rideshare drivers against Uber and Lyft

Source: Reddit

When a ride becomes available, drivers are told how much they will make and they can choose to accept to deny the ride. But even as the pay seems to be getting smaller and smaller, drivers feel they cannot miss out on the opportunity to make anything they can.

Several Drivers Have Reported $3-or-Less Rides

Ride share driver and contributor to the gigi-advocacy YouTube channel and blog The Rideshare Guy, Segio Avedian, recently announced that he has received several rides over the past few weeks for less than $3.

A faceless person holds a small cup of to-go coffee

Source: Freepik

In LA where he lives, and almost everywhere else in the country, that’s less than a small cup of coffee.

$3 for 10 Minutes Is Even Less Than What It Sounds Like

Several other drivers weighed in and explained that they too have driven rides this month for $3 or less. Because these rides only took between 5 and 15 minutes, one might think that drivers are still making between $12 to $30 per hour, but that wouldn’t be accurate.

A black car parked on the side of the road with the word “Uber” written on the door

Source: iStock

First of all, when drivers are working, they don’t receive constant offers for rides; a lot of their time “on shift” is spent waiting. It’s highly unlikely that a person gets half a dozen small trips in one hour.

It Cost Money to Drive for Uber or Lyft

Additionally, many people don’t realize that it costs drivers money to work for companies like Uber or Lyfty. They have to pay for their own gas and car maintenance, which adds up.

A faceless man pumps gas into his car

Source: Freepik

And many drivers report that shorter trips actually cost more in gas and maintenance than longer journeys. Avdeian said, “These short trips actually put more wear and tear on your car than these long trips because you’re braking and accelerating constantly.”


Gig Drivers Have the Opportunity to Make Money Through Tips

Whenever gig and ride share drivers express their frustrations for their low wages, many people argue that they can and do make up the difference in tips, like waiters or bartenders.

A hand holds a smartphone open to the Uber app tip page

Source: Uber

However, new research shows that far less people tip their drivers than one might think. One study showed that a mere 28% of Uber and Lyft drivers receive tips throughout their workday.


The Increased Cost of Living in America Is Affecting Everyone

The US is quite well known around the world for its generous tipping culture. However, recent studies have shown that Americans are tipping less than before as inflation continues to increase prices of almost all goods and services.

An illustration of inflation, showing several stacks of coins with wooden blocks depicting gas, groceries, etc.

Source: Adobe Stock

But while American consumers are skipping the tips to save money, those who rely on tips are making far less, and therefore, have less to spend when they go out. It truly is a vicious cycle where corporations continue to thrive while the average American pinches their pennies.


Drivers Can’t Deny the Rides Because They Need to Make Money

Which is why many Uber and Lyft drivers reported that, even though it’s really not worth it, they can’t in good conscience deny a $3 ride.

A driver holds a smartphone open to the Uber app

Source: Britannica

There are other drivers who would scoop up the offer in a second, so if they don’t, they’re missing out on income and have to wait for the next ride, and Uber or Lyft don’t suffer any losses.


Uber Says Drivers Are Making More than $30 Per Hour

Meanwhile, the executives at these giant corporations like Uber and Lyft are still claiming that their drivers are extremely well paid.

The exterior of one Uber’s many offices

Source: iStock

Uber has claimed that its drivers are “earning more than $30 an hour while engaged on the app.” However, the vast majority of drivers have reported that this is simply not the case.


Lyft Said the Median Driver Earns $31.10 Per Hour

Lyft made a similar statement in an email to Business Insider: “”In Q1 of this year, the median US Lyft driver earned $31.10, including tips and bonuses per hour of engaged time. After considering estimated expenses such as gas and maintenance, that’s around $24.25 per engaged hour.”

A hand holds a smartphone open to the Lyft app in a car

Source: Adobe Stock

Both companies have claimed that they take a very small amount of the profits from each ride and that they are focused on improving drivers’ wages. But these new $3 rides are not making drivers feel seen, appreciated, or fairly compensated.


$3 Trips Are Still Rare, But They Seem to Be Increasing

While these $3 trips are not technically the new normal, there are still enough of them to cause concern among rideshare drivers all over the country.

A faceless man holds open an empty black wallet with several coins in his hand

Source: Freepik

Randy Scott, a rideshare driver from Florida, explained, “At the end of the day, people are out driving in good faith, trying to make money and work, but they don’t necessarily have the knowledge to say, ‘wait a minute here, they’re offering me $2.’ There’s got to be a line drawn somewhere.”