Lyft drivers are braving a post-covid world with the reopening of bars and restaurants.

A Lyft driver waits in a car in an alley in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 13, 2019.

Local Lyft drivers share stories and tips on navigating the recent changes with the rideshare app and their post-lockdown riders. 

Restaurants and bars all over the U.S. are reopening now that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is progressing steadily. This means that there are potentially more opportunities for Lyft drivers to give rides at various times of the day – more prominently at night.

In the past, weekend evenings were especially coveted for making more money off tips than morning day shifts. However, some drivers have expressed a disinterest in taking rides on the weekend from restaurants and bars now that they are fully open.

“I won’t drive on the weekends now that the bars are open,” said David, a Lyft driver in the Sacramento area, who requested that their last name not be used. “A guy almost threw up in my car. I had to pull over on the freeway and help him out. People can’t hold their liquor now.”

Vance Johnson, a former P.E. teacher, has worked for Lyft for two years. As a means to make extra income and to spread hope during the pandemic. Vance hands out bibles and journals to riders who are in distress. In his two years of working with Lyft, there have been a few dangerous encounters.

“I picked up a drunk couple from a bar downtown,” he s and they were in a domestic altercation. I had to break them up. Afterward, they just got into the car as nothing happened.”

People are celebrating, what appears to be, the end of the pandemic by partying and losing their inhibitions throughout their Lyft rides, and some drivers are not perturbed. But the opportunity to make more money on the weekend still is not enough of an incentive to Lyft during the weekends. 

“That’s the point of Lyft,” said Ronald, another Sacramento driver, who requested that their last name not be used. “I would rather someone get a ride with me and get sick than someone drive home.” 

Lyft has seen a shortage of drivers in many cities, and, in Sacramento alone, 200 drivers quit during the pandemic. Some drivers considered the loss of other drivers as a great opportunity to increase their own individual salaries.  

Randy Ran has worked for Lyft for four years. He works solely in the Sacramento and Bay area. At the beginning of the pandemic, he reported that many people had left Lyft because of COVID-19, but that created more opportunities for success.

“I haven’t seen a decrease in rides since the pandemic started,” he said.  “Probably because all of those drivers left.” 

One struggle many drivers face is the need for masks. Though the vaccine is available to all California residents over the age of 16 and businesses are opening back up, drivers are reporting riders who are not complicit with Lyft’s policy on masks. 

Furthermore, Lyft has created many incentives and bonuses to keep drivers happy because of the loss of drivers. Lyft offers periods to earn double hourly wages and a bonus of anywhere from $15 to $30 for driving in certain areas for a while.