Uber Surge Vs. Lyft Prime Time Shootout: Where Do Drivers Earn More?


Harry right here.  Surge and Prime Time are top-of-the-line methods to extend your earnings as a driver and work smarter, not more durable.  But they’re removed from equal.  Today, senior RSG contributor Christian Perea makes use of his Lyft and Uber expertise to match and distinction the 2.  Check out what he has to say and don’t overlook to vote in our ballot on the finish of this submit!

Any time you possibly can earn extra whereas doing the identical quantity of labor, you’re in all probability speaking a few good factor.  Today, we’re breaking down Uber’s Surge vs. Lyft’s Prime Time since each packages are a model of “dynamic pricing” and act to boost driver payouts when there are not sufficient drivers on the street to satisfy passenger demand.

But relating to Lyft vs Uber in dynamic pricing, there are numerous variations and nuances that may have an effect on your payout as a driver.

Related Video: Why Is It Surging and I’m Not Getting Any Requests?

New Lyft Driver - Earn 1500:week

In the battle of Uber Surge vs. Lyft Prime Time, which one pays more to rideshare drivers?. Our in-depth review of both surge and Prime Time.

Choosing the correct platform on the proper time could make the distinction between a $10 greenback experience and a $50 journey so it’s good to understand how Uber’s Surge and Lyft’s Prime Time work so you’ll be able to maximize your pay. As fares drop, creating an environment friendly Surge and Prime Time technique turns into extra essential as drivers rely extra on these rides to make good cash on the platform of their selection.

Surge Vs. Prime Time: User Interface

Surge vs. Primetime

Sample Screens of Uber displaying Surge pricing. Notice within the third display that the incoming request signifies the quantity of surge the request is on BEFORE accepting the experience.

Uber Surge 

Uber shows its surge pricing to the driving force utilizing multicolored tiles on the map inside the Uber Partner app.  Surge might be added to any experience requested from that given tile. The shade of tiles are displayed on a variety from yellow, to orange, to purple, to DARK BLOOD RED relying on how a lot Surge pricing there’s. If you zoom in, it should inform you the precise surge fee in EACH sq. as proven above.

Related Article: How to use the Uber driver and passenger apps

All of the tiles make up a warmth map the place the darker the “red” is, the upper the surge is. You may even toggle the show of Surge pricing “On” or “Off” if the surge is just too purple and blocking out the map. When you obtain a request on Uber, the request will notify the driving force of the precise surge quantity for the journey because the request begins to rely down. The driver can then select to simply accept the journey or to disclaim it for a special journey.

How Surge is Calculated: Via Uber

Lyft Prime Time

Lyft Primetime

Sample photographs of Lyft prime time because it shows to drivers

Lyft Prime Time is fairly far behind Uber Surge in consumer expertise. The Lyft app solely shows a vary of what the dynamic pricing is all through any given space and it shows squares as an alternative of tiles. But the squares don’t even inform you how a lot Prime Time there’s.

Lyft solely shows Prime Time ranges in two colours; pink and magenta. To complicate that, the quantity of Prime Time on a given pink or darkish pink tile varies. This means you don’t even actually know what these silly pink squares imply! They are unpredictable.

I’ve acquired zero% Prime Time after getting a request in a magenta sq. many occasions. I’ve additionally acquired 100% Prime Time when there have been no pink Prime Time Squares on Lyft’s warmth map. It simply appeared out of nowhere. I typically really feel like Prime Time is decided by a Random Number Generator.

Basically, figuring out the quantity of Prime Time on a Lyft journey from the driver’s aspect is a big crap-shoot riddled with frustration and opacity. The warmth maps are merely meant for use as “kinda-sorta-over-there” guides as a result of Prime Time truly shifts quicker than it displays itself on the driving force aspect of the app.

New Lyft Driver - Earn 1500:week

This has led many drivers turning into extraordinarily annoyed with Lyft Prime Time as a result of there’s little or no transparency and it is extremely messy. Drivers will typically assume their Prime Time experience is on 150% solely to seek out it was truly at 75%.

User Interface Winner: Uber

Surge vs. Prime Time: Side-By-Side

Surge Vs. Primetime

Technically, 1.3X can be 30% Primetime. 200% PT would equal three.0X. It’s essential to notice that Surge happens in smaller increments than Prime Time.

Knowing Vs Not Knowing

surge vs. prime time

How you already know a request has surge pricing.

Uber tells you ways a lot surge is on the journey request prematurely whereas Lyft doesn’t. It looks like Lyft refuses to point out Prime Time to drivers as a result of they consider drivers will merely cherry-pick rides which have larger Prime Time.

Because of this, many drivers will solely drive for Uber when it surges. They flip over to the app they belief. In flip, Uber will get extra drivers on their system, making it extra dependable for riders and forcing surge down. In this manner, Surge is definitely simpler in getting extra drivers on the street. Lyft is left realizing what it feared most: an unreliable platform for patrons with lengthy pickup occasions that frustrates passengers and drivers alike.

Surge vs. Prime Time: Refresh Rates

From my expertise driving, Lyft’s Prime Time refreshes roughly each 1 minute whereas Uber’s Surge refreshes round each 2 minutes. This might not look like an enormous deal however there’s additionally a delay between what the passenger sees as Surge/Prime Time and what the driving force sees.

Surge and Prime Time apply to the journey AT THE TIME the passenger pushes the button to request a journey. This is why there’s typically a discrepancy between displayed Surge/Prime Time and what’s truly paid out; you receives a commission based mostly off of what the passenger noticed on the time they requested the experience. If it’s a LyftLine that took 2 minutes to course of, the distinction could be big.

Related Video: What can Uber drivers do about surge discrepancies?

Winner: Uber

Is There More Prime Time or Surge?

This actually depends upon which market you’re in. Uber Surge tends to cowl a bigger space that blankets a whole half of the town, with the very best surge being the “center” of the occasion and smaller surge rings surrounding that space. Like a nuclear blast zone.

In comparability, Lyft Prime Time could be hyper-focused right into a small space. Sometimes a single metropolis block can be 200% Prime Time whereas the remainder of the town has no worth multiplier.

surge vs. prime time

Although these footage have been taken at totally different locations and occasions, you’ll be able to nonetheless see how typical Uber Surge is wider whereas Lyft Prime Time is extra localized.

There can be alot extra Prime Time when Uber is providing ensures since drivers will shift over to the Uber platform to be able to meet their experience rely for hourly ensures, the Precious Metals Program, or Power Driver Plus. This leads to a driver scarcity on Lyft and creates Prime Time that lingers round for hours. I make extra on Lyft when this occurs just by being the place the opposite drivers aren’t.

Winner: Uber

Surge vs Prime Time: Are They Capped?

Surge has by no means actually been capped until there’s a pure catastrophe. Lyft used to cap Prime Time at 200% however eliminated the cap in February of 2016. That being stated, Lyft’s Prime Time will nonetheless not often go above 200% whereas Uber is extra more likely to go as excessive as three.0X to four.5x throughout a serious occasion.

Winner: Uber 

Guaranteed Surge vs Prime Time

Uber gives assured surge to sure companions.  It is simply in a number of markets, and in case you are fortunate sufficient to get the supply it’s essential to login to the app. Uber has additionally been recognized to designate assured surge pricing in a sure space for a sure time period. However, it’s comparatively uncommon.

Lyft doesn’t supply assured Prime Time to pick companions on a large foundation, though they’ve examined it up to now. Instead, Lyft will notify all the drivers in a market prematurely that there will probably be “Guaranteed Prime Time” in a sure areas. They will listing the occasions, quantity of Prime Time, and so on a couple of days prematurely and also you don’t even should opt-in.

surge vs. primetime

Guaranteed Prime Time

Winner: Lyft

When it involves ease of use, and the frequency through which assured Prime Time is used, I feel Lyft does a greater job than Uber. However, in case you are fortunate sufficient to be provided assured surge, it is best to take it each time because it doesn’t get provided to everyone. This means you’ll get extra rides on Uber whereas hordes of drivers flock to Lyft’s assured Prime Time zone.

Pro-Tips From Pro Drivers: Getting More Requests on Surge or Prime Time

Jeffrey Fang: (~9,400 Rides)

Surge Vs. Primetime

Jeffrey Fang: 9,400 rides

“Patience is the most critical fundamental practice in the face of Prime Time/surge while staying calm and knowing your local market and traffic laws regarding TNCs. All of this will help you earn more Surge or Prime Time in the long run.”

New Lyft Driver - Earn 1500:week

Jeffrey’s Pick: Prime Time


The Wanderer: (17,234 Rides)

Surge Vs. Primetime

The Wanderer can’t be photographed. The footage all the time seems blurred…

“If you’ve gotten a number of telephones for doing Uber and Lyft, you can also make a secondary passenger account for each to watch the place you assume there might be Surge or Prime Time. You can examine actual time Surge or PT (to keep away from the 30 second lag) and monitor the variety of drivers which are in that space. For instance, once I analyze an space that has Surge by way of the passenger app, I additionally look intently to see the place the closest different driver is and if I see on the passenger app that the opposite driver is nearer to the place I do know a request will occur, I’ll drive nearer to the occasion (whereas logged off) forward of him so I’ll get the journey request earlier than him 😉

So if I see that two drivers are within the northern a part of an space that has a variety of surge, I’ll transfer to JUST south of these drivers so I’m most probably to be the closest driver inside the largest space of the Surge zone.”

Wanderer’s Pick: Surge

So Which Pays More?

Most drivers will say Surge pays extra as a result of the driving force is ready to benefit from figuring out whether or not or not their experience is on surge. This results in extra certainty and fewer stress for drivers.

Uber additionally tends to have larger demand in most markets. Their surge covers a wider space of the town, making it simpler to get a request. And if you think about product developments like “Upfront Pricing” on Uber’s finish, then I feel passengers are much more more likely to request on surge as a result of they see an upfront worth that appears truthful to them slightly than not requesting as a result of they really feel they’re getting a nasty deal by way of “getting surged.”

Lyft Prime Time can nonetheless pay extra in lots of conditions although. If you’re in a market the place you get about as many requests as you do on Uber, then Prime Time pays extra in the long term as a result of a driver can decrease their fee by way of Lyft’s Power Driver Bonus. When in comparison with Uber, it’s like having all your rides on 1.3X all through the week whereas drastically decreasing the bigger commissions taken on Prime Time rides.  Lyft’s charges additionally tend to be higher and you may in fact obtain ideas via the app.

However, nearly all of drivers are more likely to earn extra by way of Uber’s Surge. Especially in case you are part-time or solely driving on the weekend.

RSG Winner: Surge

For most drivers, Uber’s surge is the higher selection.  But in case you are a full time driver in a busy market that will get the Power Driver Bonus, then Lyft Prime Time could also be higher for you on the finish of the week since you find yourself erasing numerous your fee.

The Verdict: Surge Is Better For Drivers Right Now

As a lot as I really like Lyft, Uber simply wins within the Surge vs. Prime Time shootout. Drivers get extra info in actual time about Surge. They know prematurely that their name is on “surge” pricing. The warmth maps make extra sense, with higher tiles and coloring schemes that correspond to precise pricing. Furthermore, the surge tiles cowl a bigger space that makes extra sense for drivers and passengers. Even although Lyft has eliminated the Prime Time cap of 200%, it nonetheless looks like it not often goes above 200%, and there’s something inside the Lyft Prime Time algorithm that forestalls it from going above the previous cap.

Let me actually hammer this level. Between Jeffrey Fang, The Wanderer, and me, we’ve got about 25,000 rides on Lyft over the course of two years- and we nonetheless don’t perceive a lot of how Lyft’s Prime Time works.

New drivers will shortly turn out to be annoyed with the system compared to Uber’s. This ensures that once they have to decide on between the 2 platforms, they go together with the one that gives the perfect expertise. When it’s Surge vs. Prime Time, Surge wins.


If I get a 2.0x surge request on Uber, what’s the comparable quantity on Lyft’s Prime Time?

Assuming base charges are precisely the identical, a 2.0x surge experience on Uber equals a 100% Prime Time experience on Lyft.  So on a daily $10 fare, the full would then be $20 for those who get a 2.0x Uber experience or a 100% Lyft Prime Time experience.

Readers, what’s your opinion on the Surge vs. Prime Time debate?

-Christian @ RSG


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In 2014, Christian left his job at a psychological well being middle to drive full time for Lyft and Uber. Since then, he has pushed for principally Lyft with somewhat little bit of Sidecar and Postmates thrown in for experimentation and Uber when he does not really feel like speaking to individuals. He likes to speak about Politics and Economics over a very good beer to whoever will take heed to him.

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