The RSF Guide to Driving Uber/Lyft in New York City

(Bick Bhangoo) #1


Driving in cities varies according to each cities geography, social layout, and hot spots. The traffic issues have a major impact on how a city manages its transportation issues, and that is why public transport systems don't cover the needs of the many. This is why rideshare has become so popular since it provides a personalized solution to a time old problem; how do I get from where I am to where I want to be? So here at RSF, I decided to start preparing guides for my readers, comprehensive insights into anything and everything rideshare related.

RSF City Guides for Drivers

This series will look at specific cities and focus on issues that are related to each and every city. Take into account that all information provided will change over time. Cities tend to change their transportation routes, and business, as well as social locations, move around.

New York City

New York City is made up of a number of boroughs, of which Manhattan is a tourist attraction and business hub. However, NYC is much more than Manhattan, and I shall look at all the places as equal. While most large cities are congested, NYC is even more so and is no.3 in the world of most congested cities to drive in. However, as a seasoned driver, I can state that while NYC is congested, driving is much easier than Mumbai, Manila, and Cairo. So, let's not complain. If you want to complain go drive in LA and then come back to NYC.

The Best Locations to Drive in NYC

Basically, everywhere and anywhere in NYC in all its five boroughs is good for Uber drivers. Each location has specific demographics and tourists, as well as business people, mingle with locals to make up a very busy city indeed. NYC is full of landmarks, famous places, and hot destinations. Daytime and Nighttime driving do vary, as they do in any city. Early birds will get the traveling crowds, and if you are partial to traffic jams, then hit the streets from 7 am till 1am, while some hours are more congested than others, in general, all hours are bad.

The locations you want to include around:

  • JFK (Terminal 4)
  • LGA
  • MSG (Madison Square Gardens)
  • Citi Field
  • Yankee Stadium
  • Barclays Center

The NYC Four

NYC is famous for four categories of trouble to drivers:

  • Slow Traffic
  • Aggressive Drivers
  • No Parking
  • Jaywalking Pedestrians

While parts of NYC might seem like a straight forward grid, even grids get locked, and that is where the term came from. Gridlock is an NYC terminology, and it is based on the layout of Manhattan roads. The speed of driving through NYC is extremely slow, so if you have a hyper-car, its just for show here, because the only place you can really drive it is on the Utah Slat Flats.

Drivers here are a cross of Italian and Egyptian, where they drive like Egyptians and are as aggressive as the Italians.

If you want to find a parking space, use the internet first, locate where you want to reach, then look up parking lots and prepare to take out a second mortgage.

Remember, NYC roads are for pedestrians first, drivers second. If you drive by this principle, you will survive the streets.

Now let's look at NYC from every angle, and we will start with the most obvious;


No matter where you are, you will have an issue with parking. Not that I expect an Uber driver to want to or need to park that much. However, the rules of engagement are, if you do have to sit in your car waiting for a ping, do so safely by either parking in a parking lot, or by paying he meter. Every free public parking space has a meter. Watch out for the signs too; some blocks allow parking during certain hours of the day; others do not allow parking at all. Some blocks have a mini meter for block parking, and if you need to take a break, park in a car park. If you choose to park in a car park, check to see that the fee is fully understood. Some parking lots scam you into believing one price, or even a fixed price, but when you end up leaving you to have to pay more. So, make sure you read the signs properly.

NYC parking tickets is a 24/7 relationship between the driver and the parking official. If you stand illegally, you will be ticketed. I honestly believe that there are at least two-meter people on every block, and like robots, they scan the streets constantly. Make sure you paid the meter and didn't let it run out. If you miss the meter by one second, you pay the fine.


NYC Is famous for its toll roads and crossings if you want a cheaper ride you need to consider taking these toll-free bridges:

  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • The Manhattan Bridge
  • The Williamsburg Bridge
  • The Queensboro Bridge

However, I suggest you always take the toll routes because they are quicker, and as such, more lucrative for you. If you want to avoid them, suggestions such as; avoid the New Jersey Turnpike and take the toll-free Routes 1 and 1/9. Just know that taking these routes will cost you more time. One of the ways you can avoid paying tolls is by selecting the toll-free option in Waze. By avoiding toll roads, you do make a longer journey, but a cheaper one and a less lucrative one for you.

Avoid Brooklyn Bridge's Surrounding Roadways

There are some public works that seem to go on for centuries, one of them is the Brooklyn Bridge. The constant concoction in that area has caused extreme traffic conditions on both directions of FDR drive. When you need to drive around that area during peak hours, don't drive on FDR, take the small side roads and wind your way to your destination. If you want to get to Brooklyn take the Manhattan Bridge, and if you are driving north than take the Williamsburg Bridge. These routes might be longer in miles but are much shorter in time.

Don't go near the Lincoln Tunnel

Another bad area is the Lincoln Tunnel that is located Midtown Manhattan. The best way to avoid the tunnel is to take the Henry Hudson Parkway and use any nearby avenue to get directly uptown or downtown.

If you want to drive to NJ, then check out whether the George Washington or the Holland Tunnel Bridge will be a faster route. If you are in NJ during rush hour, after dropping off a passenger, take a break. Wait till 6:30 pm and then you will have less traffic to contend with.


MSG (Madison Square Gardens)

MSG is to be avoided on game days. If you are picking up a passenger from there, make sure they give you exact positioning, or better yet, be in contact with the pax while driving to pick the up. Here are three location tips for positioning a pax, ask them to be at one of the following entrances:

  • West 34th St between 7th and 8th Ave
  • 7th Avenue at 34th, 33rd, or 31st streets
  • 8th Avenue at 34th, 33rd, or 31st streets

Citi Field

If you have been asked to pick up or drop off a pax at Citi Field, have them agree to positon themselves at 126th Street.

Barclays Center

Uber has a pickup location along Flatbush Avenue northbound between 5th Ave and Atlantic Avenue. Your passenger's app will tell them to wait for the driver in that location. Make sure you are in constant with your pax, since most times it will be full of Uber's and passengers.

The 11 tips to successful driving in NYC

  1. Relax
    Ignore all the harsh warnings about driving in NYC. You know how to drive, you have driven before. You are an Uber driver (for gods sake man get it together, stop panicking!!! (Sounds of a slapped face!)) Just enjoy driving for a living. Take your time, and let everyone else run around like a headless chicken on amphetamines.

  2. Watch Your Speed
    NYC speed limit is 30 mph. If that isn't enough to slow you down then the traffic congestion, pedestrians, cyclists, vendors, taxis and traffic cops should be enough to slow you down. Add to this the traffic light situation, where it is a fact that there is a traffic light for every driver in NYC! (Just kidding, but there is a heck of a lot of traffic lights with cams attached.)

  3. Don't Challenge Taxi Drivers
    Remember, you are an Uber driver, to an NYC Yellow or Green taxi driver you were akin to escaped African slave in Louisiana in 1850; fair game. Do not challenge any taxi drivers when crossing lanes, merging into a lane, overtaking, undertaking, parking, breathing…you get my point! Just remember that taxi drivers now blink to confuse Uber drivers, and will stop suddenly, so you rear end them. (Oh the humiliation, oh the degradation, oh the Aberration.)

  4. Beware of Bikers
    If you think cycling is an issue in LA, welcome to NYC. Cyclists don't own the road, they are the road, and they are snobs. Anything with more than two wheels is like a slab of steak to a zealous vegan. So, rules of engagement are: Check before you open your door, check at each intersection that you have a free way (not right of way), when turning double check, and finally understand, Cyclists akin to the royal family in 1760.

  5. Turn with Caution
    DO NOT TURN RIGHT ON A RED LIGHT IN NYC. The law is that you wait for the right to turn green, just like in any other country outside of the US. Add to this that pedestrians have the right of way at intersections, as well as cyclists (but only because they are still royalty). When you need to turn right, and the light is red, wait. When the light is green, double check and drive slowly. (When in doubt, wait).

  6. Avoid the Right Lane
    Do you like driving behind buses? Do you like trying to merge into the next lane where yellow cabs are waiting like piranha for that slab of Uber meat to enter their pool? Big Tip: Don't drive on the right, take the middle or left lane and don't even think of driving in a bus only lane, because then you get a ticket.

  7. There's Always Traffic
    It doesn't matter when you get up to work, NYC is alive 24/7. The rules of engagement here are:

    • Weekdays: 7am – 9a m is morning rush hour, 4:30pm to 7pm is evening rush hour.
    • Weekends: Saturday Night is don't drive night, but honestly, you should, because its s busy you have no time to sit and wait.
  8. Honking is Illegal in NYC
    New York City law, Section 24-221(a) of the city code, it's illegal to honk your horn in the city (unless in an emergency situation). If you decide to honk in frustration, you might get a $350 ticket. Just keep calm and keep driving.

  9. Pay Attention to Street Signs
    NYC is alive; it's a breathing entity with a heart beat and a brain. Otherwise, explain why there are so many rules of driving and parking. There are while blocks with signage, as well as parking meters with hour limits. READ the signage, READ the meters, and don't get caught making an expensive mistake. You don't want to get your car from an impound, and you don't want to pay a meter fine because you parked when its not allowed.

  10. Stay Away from Fire Hydrants and Cross Walks
    Fire hydrants and the access of is a major issue in NYC, especially after 9-11. No kidding, don't make fun of this tip. Keep your car 15 feet away from a hydrant. You don't need to measure the exact distance, just make sure you park far enough for a full-length fire-truck to park between you and the hydrant and then add some more space. Do not park on a cross walk, which means don't be cheeky and think that 1cm of your tire is not parking on a crosswalk: WRONG! You will be ticketed for being too clever for your own good.

  11. Checking for Seasonal Street Closures
    Check online for seasonal changes due to cultural activities. Some streets are closed on certain days. So, make sure that you know when these roads are closed and also don't get caught in the traffic that surrounds them. The best way you can check this is by going to the NYC-Department of Transport website.