With rideshare services soon to be available across all major Canadian cities, we take a look at what kind of opportunities exist for drivers. How much can drivers earn? What are the vehicle requirements? We answer all of your questions and more...
When BC announced recently that its finally getting on board with ride-sharing, it signalled one of the last major markets in Canada to give companies like Uber and Lyft a green light to operate. The westernmost province had been a surprising hold out, considering its self-purported rep for tech adoption, but the provincial government insisted it wanted to address public safety before giving ride-hailing a thumbs up.
Advocates for Uber and Lyft rejoiced at the added transportation options and touted the economic benefits that come from the job prospects it presents for drivers.
If you’re a self-starter wanting to get in on working for Uber or Lyft, you might be wondering what is needed in order to become a rideshare driver. What kind of qualifications do you need? What type of license is required? What sort of vehicle is best and what are the options if you don’t already own a vehicle? Here’s a high-level breakdown of everything you need to know to become a road warrior in the rideshare army.
While the minimum age required by Uber varies by province, you must be 21 to drive for Lyft, which currently operates only in Ontario. And for both companies, you must be legally allowed to drive in Canada. Those are Uber’s most basic requirements for being a driver. Lyft’s are very similar.
The other cross-Canada requirements are proof of residency in your city or province, a registered and insured vehicle, and you’ll also be required to submit to an online screening of your criminal history and driving record. Seems fair enough, considering some of the horror stories out there about ridesharing.
Although it’s not officially required, it’s a good idea to download the Uber or Lyft apps and start taking rides around your city, especially if you’re unfamiliar with how rideshare works. Take note of the rating system, what makes a comfortable ride, like free water bottles for passengers, cleanliness of the vehicle, and consider the kind of conversation the drivers initiate with you. If you live in BC, Manitoba or the Maritimes, unfortunately, this kind of reconnaissance work is not yet possible.
If you wanted to drive across Canada, your drivers’ license will do just fine. If you want to pick up rideshare passengers across Canada, it’s not quite that simple. In Toronto, for example, you can drive Uber or Lyft with a G class license or equivalent, which is the basic Class 5 driver’s license, while in Montreal you need a 4C Quebec driver’s license, requiring extra knowledge testing and a medical examination. You also need to understand and speak French when driving in Le Belle Province. Oui?
For driving in Edmonton and Calgary, the requirements are more stringent. A Class 1, 2, or 4 licenses gets you behind the wheel for Uber. This is a professional driver’s license, allowing you to operate a taxi, ambulance, limo or bus. Both cities require a (presumably clean) 3-year driver abstract submitted to a Greenlight Hub, a place where you submit background documents and learn more about the process one-on-one with an Uber expert.
While Uber does not currently operate in Winnipeg, the company is signing up drivers for when it can hit the gas on its operation in Manitoba.
BC followed Alberta’s lead and contentiously announced a Class 4 will be required to drive for Uber or Lyft, as opposed to the common Class 5. The Class 4 requires additional testing and fees. Many see it as a political gesture to appease a vocally opposed taxi industry, which believes ridesharing companies are taking away its market share.
Maybe you want to be your own boss, set your own hours and you like having friendly conversations with strangers. That could all be true, but let’s be honest – you want to make money! How much exactly? It’s tough to answer because there’s no consensus. In January 2018, Uber released a report that claims drivers earn about $21 US an hour, but the Economic Policy Institute pegged it more around minimum wage ($11 US).
Uber and Lyft both take a cut of each fare you collect, around 25%, but that can change at any time if the company decides to charge drivers more and customers less – a policy that has led Uber drivers to protest against the rideshare giant. The more you drive, the more you make. And it is possible to drive for both Uber and Lyft simultaneously, but you might want to keep your mental sanity in perspective.
Also keep in mind all the ancillary expenses you will have – gas, vehicle upkeep, car payments, and insurance. These will depend also on where you live in Canada. For example, a rideshare driver in BC is going to pay a lot more in gas expenses that someone driving in Edmonton, where gas prices are often 40-50 cents cheaper per litre.
Much like the licensing issue, vehicle requirements vary by province. Whether you already own your vehicle or thinking about buying one to ignite your new rideshare profession, you must have a 4-door vehicle to drive for Uber and Lyft. This seems like a no-brainer when you imagine a scenario when picking up a passenger only to have to flip the front seat forward and let them in. It also means you can pick up parties of two or more.
The age of your vehicle is also important. Uber and Lyft don’t want junkers on the road with their designated stickers on the back of the car windshield. They also don’t want passengers left stranded while you call for a tow truck because your beater from the 80s just broke down.
The age requirement of your car depends on your region. A Montreal driver must have a vehicle 9 years old or newer while Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa the age limit is 10 years. Toronto’s vehicle age limit is a scant 7 years, but that restriction loosens to 8-10 years if you want to drive out in the GTA suburbs. Lyft currently requires vehicles made in 2012 or newer. Your car must also have 5-8 seats, including the drivers.
Since we’ve already established that you will need a car at least 10 years or newer and one with at least 4 doors, the next key feature to consider is fuel economy. Since gas will be one of your biggest expenditures, this is an ideal time to consider purchasing a roomy hybrid vehicle. Here’s a list of some of the most affordable hybrid and EVs that qualify for government subsidies and rebates.
The rideshare giants don’t want a small detail like an owning vehicle to prevent you from signing up as a driver. Uber created Xchange Leasing to help find car leasing solutions for its drivers, but that arm of the business was sold to Fair.com, which is only available in California.
Lyft’s Express Drive rental solution allows drivers to rent vehicles, with insurance included, but that program is only available in the United States as well. If you plan to drive in Toronto there are some Uber-focused options, including Splend, which rents out Kia Sportages for about $250 per week to rideshare drivers. There’s also the ride-hail startup Autzu, also in Toronto, which charges from $4 per hour to rent.
Since these rental options are very limited, and Uber and Lyft don’t offer financing in Canada, the best way to accelerate your rideshare career is by letting Canada Drives help you find the ideal vehicle with the right financing. Have you recently become a driver? With your new source of income, you might want to upgrade to a more fuel-efficient vehicle? We can help! And, we specialize in helping customers who have bad or no credit.
Apply with Canada Drives to learn more and see what you're eligible for.
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