What’s a road trip without a little company? You could argue that rideshare drivers almost always have company on their trips — their passengers — but, well, they aren’t always the best company. However, another breed of passenger will always have drivers’ backs.
Companion apps have long been a rideshare driver’s best friend. But with the sea of rideshare apps flooding the app store these days, it can be difficult to pick the right co-pilot. Modern Shipper polled the Uber/Lyft Drivers Facebook group to see which apps rideshare drivers are really using.
By a narrow margin, navigation app Waze was the most popular response among drivers. At first glance, it might seem odd that the app that drivers use the most has two hugely popular alternatives, Google Maps and Apple Maps, the latter of which is built into every iPhone. But Waze offers features that go above and beyond the standard capabilities of a GPS app.
As one might expect, traffic is among the biggest nuisances facing drivers. Waze helps drivers solve that problem with its premier feature, its traffic mapping, which uses crowdsourced data from other drivers to plot congested roads in real time and alert them of alternate routes. That sort of up-to-the-minute information leads to shorter rides and more profits.
But Waze’s crowdsourced data is used for far more than just traffic alerts — drivers can use the app to map out the locations and prices of tolls and gas, crashes, and even road hazards. But perhaps the app’s most helpful feature is its tracking of police sightings. While speeding tickets aren’t fun for anyone, they can get rideshare drivers fired, which makes Waze’s police alerts all the more valuable.
While Waze is great for shorter and safer trips, Gridwise is really all about the money. Without the oversight of a boss, staying organized is key for rideshare drivers, who often handle trips from multiple apps and during inconsistent hours. Data is power, and Gridwise is chock-full of it.
Among other features, Gridwise tracks daily, monthly and yearly mileage totals, analyzes earnings across apps, provides tax reports, tracks driving expenses, and allows drivers to compare their earnings with other drivers in their communities. That array of data-heavy tools goes far beyond what is offered by rideshare apps like Uber (NYSE: UBER) and Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) to keep drivers informed of their finances.
Gridwise also offers a suite of airport-related features, which is where many drivers make their money. The app provides real-time data on daily passenger volume, queue lengths and flight data such as flight sizes, arrival times and delays, and drivers can customize the app to receive personalized alerts about airport activity.
One of the biggest ills plaguing many rideshare drivers is their status as independent contractors, which disqualifies them from the normal benefits that come with employment. Stride is well aware of that, and its app is making benefits more accessible for independent contractors and part-time workers of all kinds.
Stride’s focus is on tax savings, with a more comprehensive tax analysis offering than Gridwise’s. The company has a partnership with Uber, through which it automatically tracks driver mileage, savings and expenses, bundling it all into an IRS-ready tax report.
And through its partnerships with Uber, DoorDash, Instacart and other gig economy companies, Stride offers portable benefits accounts that make it easier for drivers to obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, as well as dental, vision and life insurance. The company says that a whopping 40% of its customers are paying less than a dollar a month for health care coverage.
One of rideshare’s most important profit incentives is surge pricing, increased fares that are based on high activity in a particular area. Prices can go up exponentially during a surge, which means profits can too. The trouble is knowing when and where surges are happening, which is where Surge 2x comes in.
Surge 2x provides surge data both in-depth and at a glance. Drivers can view historic and real-time data about the times and places surges are happening, for free. And for a fee of $4.99 per month, Surge 2x’s premium version extends driver capabilities even further, giving them the option to save custom surge tracking locations and receive custom notifications for when surges start, change or end.
While Uber, Lyft and other apps do provide some surge pricing data, Surge 2x’s surge tracking specialization has helped it provide a more in-depth service than the ridesharing apps, keeping rideshare drivers in the know about moneymaking hot spots.