Uber & Lyft drivers CAN’T tell where you’re going. At all.

A couple of weeks ago, I was Uber driving in the evening in San Francisco. It was 8:40pm, and I was just about to call it a day and head back home. I decided to do one, last, quick ride, after doing about 19 of them. I got my final request in The Mission, and the passenger got in. I hit the “Start Trip” button to confirm. The next screen, showed me he was heading all the way to Santa Cruz. “Ok, let’s go.” he said. I looked at the map, hoping that he made a mistake. “Santa Cruz?” I asked. “Yep.” he said. Anxious for me to start driving.

I was exhausted. I wanted to tell him no, I wanted to tell him, sorry I can’t drive that far. That’s a 90 minute ride there, plus a 90 minute ride back. I wouldn’t be home till well past midnight. Not how I planned on spending my evening. So, I grinded my teeth and drove the extra 90 minutes to Santa Cruz. I texted my girlfriend who was expecting me home shortly, telling her I wouldn’t be home till midnight. She texted back :(

The fare ended up being $63 (which I keep 80% of), and then drove back with no rides. The passenger didn’t even speak to me at all, after I tried to engage in conversation. He was buried in social media the entire time. That one trip was an evening ruiner.

See Uber & Lyft drivers cannot see you’re destination, until you’re physically IN the car. By then, it’s too late for them to contest. Yes, I know you put in the address early, and the driver “accepted” the ride. You think “Well, he knows where I’m going already, so he must be ok with it.” This is false. Whether you’re going one block away, or 90 miles away, Uber & Lyft prevent drivers from seeing the passenger destination until they confirm you’ve been picked up, and have failed miserably in communicating this to passengers.

The app knows where you’re going, You know where you’re going. The driver is literally the last to know. It sucks.

This is a very difficult model for drivers. Since most are part-time or do it once in a while, no driver wants to get stuck in a city that’s too far from home, especially if requests are dead out there. They still have a schedule they need to maintain, and places they need to be. One trip can really derail them, even question themselves if being a driver is even worth it.

As a passenger, you really can ensure a happy ride for yourself if you plan on taking a far trip. It would be polite, and courteous if you texted or called the driver to tell them you’re going to an entirely different city. If you’re in San Francisco and need a ride to Palo Alto, don’t easily assume that the driver will be happy to go that way. Since Uber & Lyft will often throw incentives for drivers to do rides only in major cities, they’ve created a messy system that is unpredictable for drivers. Even though they market themselves as Uber/Lyft : Be Your Own Boss, Work Your Own hours.

I’ve heard horror stories of drivers who had to drive to Reno, Napa, or even Los Angeles, when they thought they would just be driving for an hour. They thought if they didn’t, Uber & Lyft would be mad and punish them. These random, long, out of the way, trips are more common than you think to drivers.

Since Uber & Lyft won’t do their part to update drivers on passenger destinations, you could really help them know before they pick you up if it’s outside the city you’re currently in. Otherwise you may face a driver who may tell you “Sorry that’s too far for me.”

Driver Vision:

First screen. Just shows pickup address.
Second Screen. Gives name of rider
Third screen. No destination address shown
  1. On the first screen, drivers get a notification of your pickup address. No name, no destination shown. By tapping this screen, drivers basically “accept” the ride. Without knowing where they’re headed.
  2. On the second screen, drivers receive your first name. They will stare at this screen until you get into the car. Once you’re there, they will slide the “Start Trip” button. Still, without any idea where they’re headed. Drivers may receive a “Destination Entered” notification. Meaning, the passenger has already entered their destination address, but the driver won’t know.
  3. The third screen just shows that the driver can either contact the passenger, or cancel the ride. No destination address is ever revealed to the driver, until they start the trip.

So next time call or text you’re driver to let them know where you’re going if it’s far away!

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