5 tips for being an Uber driver as a BYU-I student

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Rexburg’s students need a way to pay for the constant FHE activities, booting tickets and food in The Crossroads. But many jobs in Rexburg, and even down in Idaho Falls, get snatched up the moment they’re available, and at times, the hours don’t work with the schedule of a busy college student.

One solution is to become an Uber driver. If you are 21 years old or older, you can sign up online to drive people to and from locations for significant returns each trip. But doing Uber as a BYU-Idaho student can have many unique challenges. Here are five tips that can be your Uber survival guide to help you get started.

1. Do all your Ubering in Idaho Falls.

It’s a 30-minute drive, but you won’t get business in Rexburg except for maybe one or two Uber Eats orders a day. In Idaho Falls, you’ll get trips any day and any time that you go. It’s worth the trip, but be mindful that weekdays, especially Tuesdays, are slower.

Idaho Falls is also home to the Idaho Falls Regional Airport. You’ll get some business from people getting to and from the airport, but you’ll also get business from the people who are already here visiting and wanting to hit the town for the night.

The Idaho Falls Regional Airport.
The Idaho Falls Regional Airport. Photo credit: Everett Willis
Map showing the approach route to the airport along Skyline drive.
Map showing the approach route to the airport along Skyline drive. Photo credit: Everett Willis

There is a concentrated hotel district where people are always calling for Ubers to different locations. Although these trips can be rather short, there’s a lot of them to be made, and these guys have the money to tip well.

The Quality Inn and Suites hotel, signaling the start of the hotel district.
The Quality Inn and Suites hotel, signaling the start of the hotel district. Photo credit: Everett Willis
Map showing the proximity of hotels in the hotel district.
Map showing the proximity of hotels in the hotel district. Photo credit: Everett Willis

Many times, truck drivers who are passing through Idaho Falls just want someone else to drive for a while, and so they will get an Uber while going from place to place.

So, in summary of tip one, do your Uber driving in Idaho Falls. Don’t expect it to work out better in Rexburg.

2. Have several go-to waiting places for while you’re waiting for a trip to come in through the app.

An ideal place is an area that is central to the city, has easy access to the roads, and has bathrooms. Setting key locations you always return to like these can help you begin to develop your mental map of the city and give you some familiarity and routine to your work.

One such location is KJ’s Superstore on Broadway Street right off of I-15. It’s a public place with bathrooms and car-friendly snacks inside. You can also get gas here if you’re running low.

KJ's Superstore and gas station, a good potential habitual rest stop.
KJ’s Superstore and gas station, a good potential habitual rest stop. Photo credit: Everett Willis
Map showing the location of KJ's Superstore, a good rest stop.
Map showing the location of KJ’s Superstore, a good rest stop. Photo credit: Everett Willis

Another location is the Idaho State Office Building right between Yellowstone Highway and Shoup Avenue. It’s a typically quiet location where you can watch the cars and maybe even a train go lazily by while you kill time. They have bathrooms inside the building available to the public, and the building is one of the most central locations of the whole city, so it’s easy to be dispatched from and return to.

The Idaho State Office Building, the parking lot empty and the bright lights keeping potential "uptonogooders" at bay.
The Idaho State Office Building, the parking lot empty and the bright lights keeping potential “uptonogooders” at bay. Photo credit: Everett Willis
Map showing the location of the Idaho State Office Building in red, and the potential parking area in blue.
Map showing the location of the Idaho State Office Building in red, and the potential parking area in blue. Photo credit: Everett Willis

A third location is in the parking lot close to the Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s always quiet, and it can yield fewer but higher paying trips.

The Buffalo Wild Wings, where Uber Eats food orders occasionally come up as well.
The Buffalo Wild Wings, where Uber Eats food orders occasionally come up as well. Photo credit: Everett Willis
Map showing where good parking new the Buffalo Wild Wings is.
Map showing where good parking new the Buffalo Wild Wings is. Photo credit: Everett Willis

As a quick note, this Buffalo Wild Wings is connected to the rest of Idaho Falls by Pancheri Drive. Pancheri Drive turns into 17th Street, one of the most important navigational streets to memorize (after Broadway and Yellowstone Avenue), as it cuts deep into Idaho Falls and into Ammon, Idaho. This intersection here is where 17th street changes from Pancheri Drive while intersecting with Yellowstone Avenue, so this intersection is an important one to memorize.

Taken on Panchari Drive, facing 17th street on the other side of the overpass. In between runs Yellowstone Avenue.
Taken on Panchari Drive, facing 17th street on the other side of the overpass. In between runs Yellowstone Avenue. Photo credit: Everett Willis
Map showing the intersection where Pancheri Drive turns into 17th Street.
Map showing the intersection where Pancheri Drive turns into 17th Street. Photo credit: Everett Willis

If you decide to Uber late into the night, the Maverik gas stations stay open 24/7. There are several in Idaho Falls, but few are in a central location, so stopping there when you need to and then returning to a spot a bit more central could be a good habit to pick up.

3. Become familiar with the bars in Idaho Falls.

Many people from out of town will want a ride to a bar, and they could ask you for a suggestion. One popular bar is the Golden Crown Lounge. With robust security, many people enjoy ending their nights there.

The Golden Crown Lounge, a popular bar.
The Golden Crown Lounge, a popular bar. Photo credit: Everett Willis
Map showing the location of the Golden Crown Lounge.
Map showing the location of the Golden Crown Lounge. Photo credit: Everett Willis

Another bar is Ford’s Bar, sporting a more rustic scene. People there feel free to let loose with their karaoke and dance themselves out of their cowboy boots.

Ford's Bar, a popular bar.
Ford’s Bar, a popular bar. Photo credit: Everett Willis
Map showing the location of Ford's Bar.
Map showing the location of Ford’s Bar. Photo credit: Everett Willis

Being familiar with the streets the bars are on can help you as well, as sometimes drunken riders will send you a close-by address instead of where they actually are. Being able to navigate quickly is helpful. The many streets around Ford’s Bar and the Golden Crown Lounge are one-way streets, making navigating through them tedious and difficult at times if you haven’t learned how to path through them smoothly.

Being familiar with bars can also help you know what kind of conversations to have with patrons. People tend to gravitate toward different bars because they have a different “scene” that they enjoy more. The vibes of the bars are always evolving, but carefully learning more about them can help you make wise decisions on how to interact differently with patrons who frequent these different bars, subsequently get drunk and then get into your car.

4. Have boundaries with your car that your patrons must respect.

For me, I don’t let anyone sit in my front seat. If someone angrily insists, I know from the start whether or not I want to be driving with the rider, and I can make decisions accordingly. Having boundaries like this creates the sense that you are in control of the situation, and it can subconsciously keep many passengers in check who would otherwise cause problems for you, showing you’re in charge and can’t be messed with.

Most passengers will be kind and respectful, but for those who aren’t, it is perfectly fine to drop them off on the side of the road and drive away, cancelling the trip as you go along. Having a line drawn in the sand where you can see they’ve crossed can help keep you from equivocating on your feeling safe while doing your job.

5. Enjoy the beautiful scenery that Idaho Falls has to offer.

The Idaho Falls Temple is always breath-taking, and watching the Falls themselves is a fascinating way to kill some time.

The bridge to view the Idaho Falls, decorated with shining Christmas lights.
The bridge to view the Idaho Falls, decorated with shining Christmas lights. Photo credit: Everett Willis

Being reminded of the beauty of the world around you is never a bad idea, but it will also help you with learning how to navigate the streets. When you start identifying beautiful landmarks, you’ll remember what it was like to drive by and near it, and you’ll start to get a knack for which lane you need to be in going down Broadway if you want to go straight without the stress of merging (the left-through lane by the way), and other such dangers that come with driving through a complicated city.

The cherry on top.

If you don’t have a way to play music in your car, get one, and then create an ’80s playlist. Not everyone likes Ed Sheeran, and not everyone likes rap music, but every single person in the world can groove to some ’80s hits.

Now that you’re equipped with some professional tips, you’re ready to start your side hustle as an Uber driver.