What it’s like to start driving for Uber in Sydney

I’ve recently started driving for Uber. I think people will find this an interesting topic to read about… so here is my story. Here is what it’s like to become an Uber Driver in Sydney.

*DISCLAIMER: this is my personal experience and not approved by Uber in any way.* I debated whether I should add this part, but I probably should. This is just my honest view of the whole process – and a story to share. This doesn’t represent the company or their business officially in any capacity.

I’ll be one of many Sydney Uber drivers… so I thought it would be fitting to use one of my favourite photos of the bridge (borrowed from my wife’s instagram account).

Why did I start driving? (#WhyIDrive)
This is probably the first thing you would want to know – why drive with Uber? It all began because my sister actually started doing it for some extra cash (we’ve all got credit cards to pay off). We got chatting, and being a tech savvy and curious person I decided to do it too. I have a car that is perfectly suited to it (Hyundai i30) and who wouldn’t mind some additional money in their pocket?

Money isn’t the only reason I’m doing it however. I work in a customer-service/people facing role and what I’m also doing is honing my interpersonal and communication skills. I don’t have a problem with talking to people, but I’m wanting to always refine and do a better job (plus it’s an interesting challenge – zag on ’em).

#WhyIDrive is something I saw Uber doing… trying to get stories of why people sign up to drive (because some are interesting). I’ve heard a good one about a retiree who does it so he can just meet new people and have a chat. That’s pretty cool.

What’s involved with signing up?
It’s pretty easy. I’m not sure I’ll cover it all sufficiently, but in essence you need to have a car that is less than 10 years old, car insurance, and a sufficiently good driving record. You don’t have to have a completely unblemished record, but let’s say if you’ve ever been to court your probably fighting an uphill battle.

All you do is sign up, and then Uber walk you through all the steps. You’ll have to get your car inspected… other than that, it’s pretty pain free.

What I did to prepare before my first drive
I must admit I was pretty nervous about just starting to drive. This is new and different, and I didn’t want to screw it up. I watched some videos on YouTube and learnt some good tips (which I’ve made into my golden rules):

  1. Always start your trip once a person is in the car.
  2. Ask people if they are ok with the GPS, Google Maps, or want to direct you. Be cool with whatever they want to do re: how to get there.
  3. Clean your car… and have it super clean all the time. A great tip for this is to bring windex and paper towels and quickly wipe the insides of the windows every couple of trips (the smell of windexed windows is a very subtle but strong “clean” association for people).
  4. Introduce yourself and greet them by their name warmly.
  5. Pick up on the vibe of the trip and run with it. Couples will likely want to chat among them selves, as will groups of friends. Solo riders will likely want to chat more. If someone isn’t really talkative, don’t push it.
  6. Open your windows in between trips to try and air out perfume/drunk-smell. (If it’s bad, use a cleaner or something to make it better).
  7. When dropping off people, ALWAYS check that they have everything (especially ladies in the back seat – purses etc).

My first trip as an Uber Driver
My first ever rider was a young woman in Lindfield. I grew up around there, so I was comfortable with the area. The GPS misled me off the beat and I nearly drove right past her, but managed to fix that up. The moment she got in she was happy, talkative, and just perfect. I was so nervous about what to expect, what should I say / do, the fact she was really nice and happy made it all so easy. We chatted as I drove, and I confessed that she was my first ever passenger. She thought that was great, and we talked a little bit about why I was driving.

The rest of my first night.
Whilst I know bits and pieces of each of my passengers from the small talk I had with them, I am going to try and respect their privacy and just paraphrase (unless it’s a good story). My second passenger was a great guy and we had a big trip from Chatswood to Petersham. That’s across Sydney and was a good trip. He was really cool, directed me where he wanted me to go, but had a great talk the entire way.

The next trip was for two girls heading from Petersham into Crown Street. This trip was interesting in two ways; 1. the girl who booked the trip had a mutual friend, and 2. the friend that was with her was in a wheelchair. Now, as a complete rookie I have to admit that I was super chilled with this prospect. I think working in health helped in this instance because although my mind was racing with thoughts like “oh man, I’m I allowed to do this?!” etc, my face and attitude was nothing but cool with it. Turns out there is a special kind of super compact/collapsible wheelchair that I guess people using for going out (?). It wasn’t a problem and these two girls turned out to be my favourite trip of the night. We chatted and found when I heard where “A” worked, I laughed and said she must know my neighbour (which she did). Small world.

Later that night I picked up 4 middle aged business men that had been drinking in Mosman and needing to be dropped all over Seaforth. No biggie, I drove quietly whilst they told stories and joked. In the end the guy who booked me said that he wouldn’t have picked that this was my first night.

Outcome of the first night.
I ended the night at 10:00pm, was happy and had fun. I did 5 trips and made $98.00 – which is pretty good. I did some quick math and worked out that I was earning more than $1.00 per km driven, which is good. I wanted to drive again!

My second night as an Uber Driver.
I was pretty happy with how the first night of driving went, so I decided that I would go out the next night (Saturday) and see what that was like. I picked up a ride straight away and no joke spent the next 3-4 trips circling around my own suburb. This was good because back-to-back rides are good for money… but short trips are kind of lame. I admit it was good being in my own neighbourhood because I was super relaxed and knew all the shortcuts. One rider stated that he didn’t think it was possible to have a clean black car… but mine was. I liked that. Another rider was really curious how I had a perfect 5 star rating. He asked if I had beers stashed in the back (for passengers; to bribe them for ratings). I laughed and explained that since this was night number two that the laws of averages were in my favour. He joked that he would give me a 4 star as he got out… but didn’t… but did leave me a cheeky comment about it.

I decided that whilst I was happy with my previous night’s efforts, I wanted to try and snag a “surge” trip. Surge is like extra money for high-demand areas. I’ve heard that you shouldn’t bother chasing them… as they are random and often disappear as quick as they appear.

Here is an example of the surge radar for Sydney…


If you zoom in, you can see how much surge is in effect. The example below says 2.0 x… which means that trips are worth double if started in this area. So a $10.00 trip is now worth $20.00 – sounds good!


(I’m wondering if Uber will get annoyed about me posting that image… but I don’t think it’s a massive secret… plus it’s really interesting).

The joke is… I spent the whole night driving and never got one. I even pointed my car near the stadium for when the Super 7’s match finished thinking I’d get it there… turns out all the other Uber drivers were around and thus there was never a surge. See… it’s fickle.

In conclusion.
I was a little annoyed I didn’t get a surge.

I was really happy to learn that I have a perfect 5 Star rating. For every trip that I have that has been rated (which is 7 trips) I’ve been given a 5-star rating… so 7/7 ….that’s really cool. I know that it won’t last (it’ll only take one person voting anything less than 5 to topple that…) but I’m happy for the time being.

I’m going to be doing it more, so there is a chance that one night… you might have me as your driver.

See you on the road.