How Much Can I Make Rideshare Driving in NYC?

J.M. here. January is typically a slow month for rideshare driving, which means resorting to meeting income guarantees and promotions from transportation network companies (TNCs) to supplement income.  I’m closing in on a year of rideshare driving in NYC, and two years of rideshare driving in general.  So with the lull in demand, let’s examine which location is more profitable: driving in NYC or in New Jersey?


To determine which geographical location is more profitable, driving in NYC or in NJ, I’ve dug up all of my past income statements beginning from day one.  The data were pretty interesting when I averaged the weekly income payouts for each month.  I wanted to know not just which months were the best for me, but whether getting a TLC license has been beneficial or not.  So I averaged each weekly payout per month in NJ and NYC, and found that there was a substantial income boost after transitioning into the NYC market.  Check out the graph below:

Average weekly income per month in NJ and NYC markets.
Figure 1.

In this graph, the green data points represent average weekly payouts.  The circles are not how much I made per month.  Instead, they represent how much I made each week, on average, for that month.  We can see that in the 11 months of rideshare driving in NJ, my weekly payouts were around $450 on average (represented by the polynomial trend line).  In contrast, when I transitioned into the NYC market at the start of 2016, my income immediately increased as discussed here.  

Along these lines, the blue squares represent average weekly payouts from driving in NYC.  Again, these were calculated by averaging all rideshare income each week for that month.  For example, if I made $400 from Uber and $300 from Via, the sum of $700 was used for that weekly payout.  Not surprisingly, driving in NYC for the past 11  months was more profitable on average.  With the middle of the trend line intersecting somewhere between $600 – $700 per week.  

Which Market is More Profitable?

Long story short, I’ve made on average 1.5x more per week driving in NYC versus rideshare driving in NJ.  That’s like driving with a constant 1.5x surge on while in NYC; imagine when it actually is surging too!  You can see how even with the additional expenses associated with driving in NYC, it’s still more profitable.  To highlight this point even more, here’s another graph, this time with both data sets overlaying each other across time:

Average weekly income driving in NYC vs. NJ.
Figure 2.

 

In this graph, there are a few key takeaways that I’ll discuss.  The first thing that you should notice is there is no point at which the two data sets intersect.  Therefore, there seems to be some divergence in the two income amounts per rideshare driving market.  Even though in reality these payouts happened a year apart from each other, (as depicted in Figure 1), the closest point in time where they almost intersected is during the month of April.   This could be due to several factors, including a high frequency of family member birthdays within that month.  And each driver-partners’ income trends are likely slightly different from everyone else’s.  

Another interesting takeaway is the similarity in shape of the two data sets.  That is, the data paths seem to follow a predictable trend across the year.  For example, the highest data point for both data sets occurred in early January.  This signifies that weekly income payouts were highest on average at that time of year, likely due to the notoriously busy holiday season (e.g., New Year’s eve in particular is associated with increased demand).  

Are There Any Income Trends Across the Year?

Following the NYE spike in income, there’s another noticeable bump beginning in May, and lasting approximately until September.  Logically, these months would have higher weekly payouts on average because they’re summer months.  The weather is nicer in these markets, and people generally travel on holiday or simply go out to eat more frequently.  Therefore, the demand is greater especially in NYC where airports are not easily accessible by public transportation.  It should be noted that for the month of September, I was traveling myself and not driving in NYC as much, or at all for some weeks.  Which would explain the dramatic dip after August.  In the future, there will likely be a smoother descending trend from the zenith of summer until December; albeit a descending mean income trend nonetheless over that time.  

Finally, the end data points in both sets do not reflect average weekly income per month for the months of January.  This is because we’re currently in Janurary, and there aren’t enough payout data yet to calculate a representative mean.  Instead, the markers represent average weekly payout amount across all weeks per rideshare driving market.  For example, I averaged all weekly payouts together across time to get approximately a mean of $450 and $675 (in the NJ and NYC market, respectively).  Again, these figures indicate that driving in NYC is roughly 1.5x more profitable per week than in NJ.  

Tracking Your Income 

In conclusion, tracking your income itself is a great way to determine how you’re doing exactly.  You may be surprised to discover income trends across the months/years, and it’s relatively simple to do.  All the information you need is provided by the rideshare company you’re working with.  And the payouts are archived on their website (except when they aren’t *ahem* Lyft).  Here’s how to calculate your average weekly income per month:

Log into Your Driver-Partner Portal

Navigate to the payout history menu, scroll down and click "see all statements."

 

That’s basically it.  All your past income statements will be available for you to average together by month.  It helps to make an excel spreadsheet too, which you can then convert into a graph as I’ve done above.  Now that it’s all set up, all I have to do is plug in the new data (i.e., weekly payout amounts) as they come in.  And I’ll have a running income graph, which I can visually analyze each month.  Remember, knowledge is power!

What Other Ways Are There to Maximize Income?

Depending on your level of involvement with rideshare driving, your income potential will greatly vary.  For example, drivers who work more hours typically make more per hour than their part-time counterparts.  This is associated with income boosts that come along with meeting hourly guarantees and/or other promotions.  

Along these lines, driving for more than one TNC is typically a surefire way to increase your income potential.  In Figure 2, the months of September through December are not as high as they should be for the NJ data-set.  This is because I was also driving with Lyft; however, the payout archives were irretrievable from the Lyft website during this period.  Therefore, the average weekly income for these months specifically are actually higher than reported in the data above.  

While rideshare driving in NJ, I was also making credit card payments which meant devoting a big portion of my income to debt repayment.  To maximize your income potential, continue using your own personal vehicle, payoff credit cards completely, and/or rent a vehicle to use if necessitated by regional legal requirements (e.g., when getting on the road in NYC).


  • Jacqueline

    This is a great article. Your graph and income comparisons are very telling. Nice data and very helpful.

    • Thank you! These data aren’t even on the high end of the income spectrum in the NYC market too.