Al is a full-time rideshare driver in New York City. Here's what a typical day on the job looks like.
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Al Castillo doesn’t have a traditional job. As a full-time rideshare driver in New York City, his office is his 2017 Honda Pilot.
Castillo, 33, started driving for apps like Uber, Lyft and Juno about four years ago, and he’s been driving professionally for much longer. Before ridesharing took off in New York City, he drove school buses for seven years. He also drove for taxi service companies, which is how many New Yorkers got from point A to point B before Uber arrived in May 2011.
What’s it really like to drive full-time in one of the busiest cities in America? I spent a day on the road with Castillo to find out.
Castillo typically works six days a week, Monday through Saturday. On weekdays, he starts driving between 6 and 7 am and finishes up between 4 and 5 pm. That’s nine to 11 hours a day. On Saturday, he starts his day a little later, between 8 and 9 am.
On this particular morning, a Wednesday, he was “feeling sleepy,” he tells me, and left his home in Brooklyn at 7 am. First, though, he grabbed breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts.
The flexibility that comes with being your own boss makes up for the long hours, says Castillo. The father of three schedules his day so that he can be home in time to pick his kids up from school, help with homework and have a family dinner.
On a typical day, Castillo brings home $250. If he works Monday to Saturday, that’s $1,500 per week, which comes out to about $6,000 a month. He earns an additional $100 to $300 per month by using Cargo, which pays him a monthly rate for selling products like snacks and headphones to passengers, and Play Octopus, which pays him to mount a tablet that offers trivia games and plays ads.
That means, theoretically, he’s earning $72,000 a year from rides and between $1,200 and $3,600 a year from Cargo and Play Octopus, for a total of about $75,000 before taxes.
Castillo gets paid per ride and his earnings depend on how long the trip is, how much distance he covers and whether or not there’s “surge pricing,” which is when demand for rides is high and prices for passengers goes up. Surge pricing, or “prime time,” as Lyft calls it, tends to happen during rush hour, bad weather or if there’s a big event going on in the area.
Castillo and I check in on his earnings periodically. A mid-morning, 22-minute UberX trip earns him nearly $10. The app doesn’t show how much the customer paid — it just breaks down Castillo’s take: He earns a base rate (what you’re paid to start the ride) of $1.83, a time rate (what you earn per minute in your region) of $5.49, and a distance rate (what you earn per mile in your region) of $2. Total: $9.32.
Uber and Lyft both collect about 30 percent of all passenger fares, Castillo tells me. Juno takes just 16 percent, but it’s not as popular an app yet, he adds. Sure enough, we don’t get one call from Juno over the course of the day and, instead, flip back and forth between Uber and Lyft.
He has all three because, depending on what neighborhood he’s driving in, one app may be busier than the others. “People in Bed Stuy [Brooklyn] like to use Lyft,” he says. “If you’re in Queens, people like Juno.”
The more rides he completes, the more he gets paid, so “you want to be busy all the time,” he tells me. “Our time is money.”
Read more about being a ride-share driver here:
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A day in the life of an Uber, Lyft and Juno driver who makes about $6,000 a month in NYC | CNBC Make It.