Ride-share Drivers

How can ride-share drivers be better supported?


Individual Project
University of Toronto


UX Research
Idea Generation

Ride-share driving has become increasingly popular over the years, having come to be a ubiquitous means of transportation as “gig” economies gain more prominence in society. Given its importance to our daily lives, it follows that ride-share drivers should be better supported as they devote long hours to ensuring riders get to their respective destinations. However, ride-share companies and the media have tended to focus on passenger welfare as opposed to drivers’ interests, especially with regards to non-policy measures. This project focuses on the key pain points shared by drivers as they go about they daily routines, and how we might be able to address to them.


What types of problems are we talking about here?

I'm focusing on a few key underlying issues, namely:

How do drivers track profitability?What do more profitable or experienced drivers know that others do not?How can ride-share apps help?

What are some of the common negative experiences drivers face?How can drivers feel better supported by ride-share companies and passengers?

What are the main location types and services that drivers need as they work?What are the main problems drivers face with navigation before, during or after a trip?



  1. Find out how drivers track profitability, and what features or measures (e.g.mileage, number of trips, customer types, etc) are used when doing so.
  2. Understand what common pain points drivers have with street/city navigation in different scenarios (e.g. pick-up, drop-off, unfamiliar territory, etc).
  3. Discover what drivers' main concerns are surrounding safety and well-being, and subsequently, how Uber (or third party actors) may be able to better support them.


  1. What percentage of rideshare drivers are full-time workers, part-time workers or hobbyists?
  2. What are some metrics (if any) that drivers keep track of and why?
  3. How do drivers keep track of profitability? Are there certain criteria or measurements that they look out for in order to increase their profits?
  4. What do drivers regard as ideal trips in regards to profitability and driver experience? (e.g. surge, length of trip, time of trip, etc)? Is this information readily available to them on the app?
  5. What workarounds (including other applications) do drivers use when trying to navigate around the city (outside of Uber navigation and other navigational options provided in-app)?
  6. What are some important stopping points that drivers look out for whilst on the job?
  7. Do drivers have concerns regarding their personal safety or well being during their trips? What are they?
  8. If drivers have had negative interactions with passengers/riders on their trips, what happened and how did they resolve the issue(s)?

Who did I talk to?

Participants were Uber or Lyft drivers with some familiarity with their respective application(s) - 5 or more trips completed on Uber OR 5 or more trips completed on Lyft.

Surveys answered questions like what metrics drivers keep track of, what help Uber/Lyft provides them with, and what external applications or workarounds they use daily to help them on the job.

Participants were asked about their typical trips and everyday use of Uber or Lyft applications as drivers, and how they might be better supported to ensure they are making the best use of their time and resources.


*Download case study for full findings
Which of the following metrics do you regularly keep track of?
Over the course of a day, what would you regard as ideal trip characteristics?
Drivers focused on keeping track of metrics like miles travelled and earnings for tax deduction purposes
‘Tips’ ranked high on the list of things to track, underscoring the importance of driver/passenger relations.
Longer rides, less traffic/waiting times, and high surge rates were some common answers relating to a driver's ideal trip
Drivers cited stops that served basic needs such as petrol stations and toilets as important to keep track of, which is understandable since drivers are usually stuck in their vehicles for long periods of time.
Which of the following (if any)are important landmarks/stops that you keep track of while driving?


*Download case study for full findings
Snapshot of Open & Axial Codes from Interview Codebook
Link to Interview Transcripts & Codebook
After conducting the interviews and transcribing them, participants’ answers were broken done into ‘code snippets’, which then were coded and sorted by theme(via axial codes). In order to simplify the coding, axial codes were subsequently grouped into ‘General Takeaways’. Here are a few takeaways:
Drivers develop various strategies to keep their profits high, such as keeping track of specific times/places where they could find more passengers in need of a ride, and being wary of surges that lead to more time spent in traffic
Drivers are at the mercy of passenger ratings, and are unaware of what the threshold is for being deactivation from low ratings
Drivers feel the need to appease rude and/or difficult passengers and feel unsupported by ride-share companies


Survey and interview data was analyzed with main points grouped by research goal. Each goal had its own corresponding affinity board, which was later used in solution development. Below is an outline for the first of the original three research goals, all of which are outlined in the case study.

Research Goal 1: Profitability

Find out how drivers track profitability, and what features or measures (e.g. mileage, number of trips, customer types, etc) are used when doing so.





Job Story

When I am looking for passengers,
I need to know when and where I could find surges ahead of time,
so that I can avoid competition and take advantage of a wider set of passenger routines and events that aren’t solely based on real-time demand.


  • Potential surge areas and popular locations and times could be included in applications to provide support for drivers in search of areas with higher anticipated demand
  • Since most drivers cited a preference for longer rides, applications could develop a feature that allows passengers to book drivers ahead of time for much longer drives (a few hours or more), which could be another way for drivers to avoid surge competition

Job Story

When I am looking to increase my profits per trip,
I need
to develop a better connection with my passenger and leave a good impression,
so that I get higher tips.


  • Drivers could take advantage of passengers’ morning and evening routines such as a carpool feature to pick passengers up from home or work, allowing for a more predictable schedule and closer passenger/driver relationships
  • Passengers could have preferred drivers that they can book ahead of time

Job Story

When I am keeping track of my expenses and filing my taxes,
I need
access to specific information such as standard mileage, tolls and parking fees,
so that I can take better advantage of tax deductions and create a comprehensive log of my profits.


  • Applications like Uber and Lyft could enable drivers to track their expenses in-app, and easily download logs for mileage and expenses for tax purposes



Job Story

When I have been driving for hours on end,
I need
easy access to resting stops for my immediate needs, to socialize, and get some fresh air,
so that I can recharge physically and mentally.


  • Drivers who need access to toilets, affordable cafes, open spaces or opportunities to socialize with others may benefit from a driver-curated shared social map(s). Considering the long hours and stressful conditions they undergo, resources like these would go a long way in assisting drivers in their day to day routines

Job Story

When I am having trouble finding specific pickup locations,
I need visual cues or information on nearby landmarks,
so that I do not waste time looking for my passenger.


  • Since drivers have noted their reliance on landmarks and visual cues as means of navigation, passengers could be given the option to provide photos of pickup locations to aid drivers in getting to them quickly.



Job Story

When I feel unsafe or unable to perform nonessential duties due to physical or psychological traits that are beyond my control,
I need
the flexibility to filter for trips that I am not able to perform,
so that better driver/passengers matches are made and I am able to my job to the best of my ability without putting myself at risk.


  • Although current ride-share apps prefer that their drivers not cherry-pick passengers, there may be some cases in which greater flexibility in expressing one’s preferences may be understandable. For example, older drivers or drivers with some sort of impairment or disability may not be able to help passengers with things like carrying luggage or groceries, although it is expected of most drivers. Considering the prevalence of driver harassment, female drivers who feel unsafe may feel more secure if they were able to only accept rides from other female passengers, in spite of potential earnings losses.

Job Story

When my passenger feels that I have done an inadequate job,
I need to judged fairly based on an existing set of basic criteria such as cleanliness and drop-off success,
so that I do not end up needlessly paying for sporadic complaints regarding nonessential tasks.


  • In order to lessen the impact of unfair ratings on drivers’ overall scores and subsequently, their livelihoods, ride-share apps could replace the ratings system with quick basic questions, such as whether passengers got to their destination safely, and if the vehicle was clean. This would encourage passengers to judge drivers on the main requirements of the job. Passengers who still have complaints have the ability to leave feedback, but this would be an additional step to be taken and not part of the basic ratings process.