What Is A Long Trip By Uber/Lyft Standards?

Before discussing if longer trips are more profitable or not, it is important to know how much distance a ride must cover to be considered “long”.

The average Uber/Lyft trip distance is 5-6 miles and takes around ten minutes to complete. Short trips are usually in this range or maybe slightly lower in terms of distance covered.

Long trips are mostly four times or five times the average ride distance and take much longer to complete. For example, we can consider a trip “long” when the distance covered is over 10 miles or takes over forty-five minutes to complete.

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What Is The Shortest Distance You Can Take With Uber/Lyft?

There is no “minimum” amount of miles you can go with either Uber or Lyft. However, there is a flat fee that you have to pay regardless of the distance of the ride. This is called the “Base Fare” and is usually around $5-$6 in most states, although the specific amount may vary.

However, rideshare drivers complain that short trips are unprofitable for them for various reasons. For starters, consider the time it will take the Uber/Lyft driver to reach where you are.

Those miles covered while trying to get to the pickup location are “dead miles” and Uber/Lyft do not pay for them. If the distance is short, the fare may total up to just a little above the minimum fare, which is about $5.

Uber will still collect its mandatory 20% cut from the fare, leaving the driver with about $3 in total earnings. Drivers still have to handle expenses for gas, maintenance, etc. from their earnings. From this, it is easy to understand why they dislike short trips.

Next time you order Uber/Lyft ride for a short trip, the best you can do is give a generous tip. This will reduce the loss the driver incurred on the trip.

5. How Long Does Uber Let You Drive?

If you are an Uber driver, you know that the best way to earn more money is to drive during the peak hours. According to an Uber press release, for safety reasons, you can stay online and drive for a maximum of 12 hours.

Breakdown of Uber fees

The cost per mile is just one small fee when it comes to an Uber ride.

It helps to understand all of the different fees and charges that Uber will hit you with so that you will have a complete understanding of your Uber charges.

Here’s a list of the fees you can expect:

  • Base fare
  • Long pick up fee (If applicable)
  • Minimum fare
  • Cost per mile
  • Cost per minute
  • Fixed Booking fee
  • Per-minute wait time
  • Tip

Let’s go through each of these individually so you can see what to expect for each one.

I will use a sample booking that I made within the Tucson, Arizona area to illustrate the prices.

Related: Uber vs Turo in Honolulu, Hawaii (Which is Cheaper?)

Base Fare

The base fare is a flat fee charged at the beginning of every ride.

This is often a very small amount. For example, for a trip I pulled up in Tucson, Arizona it was only $1.30.

On other occasions, I have seen this fare below one dollar, so it is often pretty negligible.

Long pick up fee

If you have a long pick up schedule then you may be hit with per minute and per mile pick up fees.

For a sample booking I did, the per minute pick up fee was $.17 per minute and the per mile pick up fee was $.80 per mile.

(These may be the same rates as the rates during your trip while you are sitting in the car as a passenger.)

Minimum fare

The minimum fare is a mandatory mini

Minimum fare The minimum fare is a mandatory minimum amount that you must pay for your trip. It is only relevant if your fare total would be below the minimum amount. This fee is set in order to encourage Uber drivers to pick up individuals on short rides because otherwise such short rides would not be profitable enough to incentivize them to pick up passengers. For a 10 minute ride in Arizona, the minimum fare came out to $9.80 for an UberX ride.

Cost per mile

This is how much your trip is going to cost you per mile that you are riding as a passenger.

As stated above, this amount can change. For my Arizona trip, the cost per mile was $1.21.

If you have chosen a fare like UberXL, the cost per mile could be significantly higher.

For example, a simple price from Union Square to SFO in San Francisco shows a cost per mile at $2.47.

Note: If you are heading out on a very long ride that involves hours of riding then you may be charged a minimum fare of $50 per hour.

Cost per minute

In addition to getting charged per mile, you also get charged per minute. The charge per minute is generally very low and in my case it was at $.14.

This is something to keep your eye on when traveling with some Uber drivers because it could incentivize them to take a longer drive to get you somewhere.

Because the charge per minute is so low this is not a huge concern but there could be some shady actors out there who would try to take advantage of this.

Booking fee

The booking fee, which used to be called the “safe rides fee,” is a mandatory fee that you must pay for each trip that you take. It is presumably meant to help cover things like operating costs.

This fee changes depending on the type of fare that you book.

For a UberX ride, your booking fee will probably be a little over two dollars. For example, it might be $2.15 or $2.20.

For other type of rides, the fixed booking fee can actually be a decent amount higher. When I checked the fee for a Uber comfort, the fixed booking fee was $2.86.

For other services such as UberXL, the booking fee will probably be around $2.50.

In addition to the fixed booking fee, there will also be a per mile booking fee on some rides. This is usually a very small amount and I have seen it as low as five cents per mile.

Note: You may not see this booking fee if you are booking one of the more premium services such as UberBlack or UberSUV

Related: Uber Rider Rating: Everything you need to know

Per-minute wait time

If your driver has to wait for you to arrive at the vehicle for a certain amount of time, such as over two minutes then you will likely be charged a wait time.

This wait time is charged per minute and the amount can vary. I’ve seen it range from something like $.25 to $.60 per minute.

Tip

The last charge that you need to think about is the tip. Tipping is optional but it is recommended to provide a little tip, typically at least 10% is good although some people like to tip more.

Related: Should You Tip Uber Eats Drivers?

Surge charges

If you are trying to get a ride during a very busy time, you will likely get hit with surge charges.

This amount is calculated by taking your total fare and then multiplying it by a set surge price multiplier. The multiplier will depend on the demand at the time but it could be something like two times or three times the amount of your fare.

The price is hiked in order to encourage other drivers to come into the area to meet up with the demand of passengers.

The highest surge charges that I have came across are usually directly after a large event ends. For example, if you are leaving a stadium after a football or baseball game, those surge prices can drastically increase.

Other instances that I’ve seen involve bad weather such as a bad rain storm that comes in quickly and leaves a lot of people without the ability to walk to their destination.

Cancellation fees

There are a variety of cancellation fees that you should be aware of.

The first is a rider no-show fee. Basically, if you never show up for the driver you can be hit with a $5 fee.

If you choose to cancel the ride then you may be hit with a standard cancellation fee of $5.

There may also be additional fees based on the per mile or per minute rates.

So whatever the per minute and per mile rates are for the trip or for the pick up, you may be responsible for covering those up to the point of canceling.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

9. Best Long Distance Ride Service Alternatives

Here is our checklist of the best alternatives to using Uber for a long range trip:

If you are looking for a long distance taxi in NYC you can take a look at our guide to NYC taxi apps.

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How Much Do Long Distance Uber Rides Cost?

You’re probably already aware that Uber will give you a live estimate of how much an Uber ride costs.

This takes into account how busy Uber is and its distance.

A similar idea applies to long distance Uber rides.

Is A Taxi Cheaper Than Uber For Long Distances? The more expensive the ride, the better value an Uber is. So, if you’re in a congested area and taking a quick ride, Uber and a taxi driver will cost roughly the same (although Uber is much more convenient). Generally, Uber is a cheaper option for rides more than $35 overall.

Pro Tip: Use An Uber Long Distance Calculator To Find Price

Did you know that Uber offers a fare calculator on its website?

That allows you to put in your desired start and end destinations.

Uber will give you an estimate down to the penny.

Due to various factors, those prices may fluctuate some, but you’ll at least have a good picture of how much your long distance Uber is likely to cost.

A calculator is also an excellent tool when you’re trying to compare services and plan your trip.

Long Distance Fares on UberX and UberGO

UberX is Uber’s basic level of service, so no need to worry about extra fees on UberX!

The standard calculator will cover your needs perfectly.

UberGO is Uber’s short trip service, providing riders rides around cities.

These cars are hatchbacks and are limited in carrying and seating space.

For cities like New York City, San Diego, and San Francisco, UberGO is great but it is not an option for long distance Uber and won’t even appear as an option when you try to book your trip.

Tipping Your Driver On Long Distance Rides

For a long time, tipping Uber drivers was a bit of a touchy topic.

Now, though, tips are encouraged, and you can apply them directly within the app.

All tips go to the driver.

Why Should You Tip On Long Distance Uber Rides?

Tipping on Uber isn’t necessary, but it’s absolutely something your driver appreciates.

Driver pay from Uber isn’t all that high, so any tips a passenger can provide for good service are very welcomed.

This applies even more so for long distance rides.

Uber drivers are responsible for their own gas and maintenance, so they’re paying for all the gas to drive you to your location.

You might also be an excellent traveling partner, but if you book an eight-hour Uber, that’s a lot of time for someone to be driving!

How Much Should You Tip?

How much you tip is entirely up to you, but the standard amount is between 10 and 20% of your total fare.

For a long distance trip, the kindest thing to do for your Uber driver is a tip on the 20% end of the scale.

But, again, consider the amount of time they’re working and the gas.

Tipping is never compulsory, but it’s definitely the right thing to do during a long distance Uber.

So How Much Do Uber Drivers Actually Make?

Many Uber drivers are students who want to pay their way through college. How much Uber drivers earn varies from one driver to another, and it all depends on how much they drive, and many other aspects, such as car maintenance, gas expenses, tolls, insurance, and so on. The time of the drive is also relevant to the amount a driver is going to earn at the end of a ride. It is hard to calculate an average number.

Overall, a driver is said to get an average weighted driver wage of $21.90 per hour. If a driver works 30 hours a week, the rough projected annual driver salary would be around $34,164.

Bonuses

However, it is important to consider that drivers do receive bonuses sometimes. It can be a little rare, but they still get some advantages. Some of the bonuses include sign-on bonuses and referral fees.

If you are still curious about numbers in different major cities across the United States, then check out this 2019 chart that says how much drivers made per hour before expenses and after TNC commission.

MarketEarnings Per Hour MedianEarnings Per Mile MedianEarnings Per Trip Median
Pittsburgh, PA$18.80$0.96$11.28
Los Angeles, CA$17.07$0.87$9.84
Dallas, TX$15.64$0.70$10.95
Phoenix, AZ$16.78$0.71$10.00
New York, NY$20.96$1.10$13.33
Washington, DC$17.44$0.94$10.23
Boston, MA$20.88$1.07$10.95
Chicago, IL$17.84$0.98$10.78
Baltimore, MD$15.90$0.81$9.90
Atlanta, GA$13.79$0.66$9.67
Miami, FL$12.69$0.69$8.67
Austin, TX$17.19$0.84$10.88
Detroit, MI$16.60$0.68$10.65
New Jersey$18.41$0.91$10.50
Houston, TX$14.26$0.63$10.85
Philadelphia, PA$17.22$0.99$9.71
Bay Area, CA$21.21$1.06$11.67
San Jose, CA$21.80$1.00$11.51
Seattle, WA$20.35$1.14$11.47
San Diego, CA$17.15$0.79$9.39
San Antonio, TX$12.44$0.64$9.29
Columbus, OH$14.46$0.76$10.05
Indianapolis, IN$14.69$0.66$9.29
Denver, CO$19.10$0.87$11.85
Jacksonville, FL$13.87$0.64$9.09
Charlotte, NC$13.57$0.62$9.31
Las Vegas, NV$15.37$0.89$8.61
Oklahoma City, OK$14.05$0.62$8.29
Nashville, TN$15.52$0.77$10.00
Kansas City, MO$16.85$0.69$11.23
New Orleans, LA$14.33$0.90$10.31
Tampa, FL$12.55$0.63$9.01

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