To find the best areas in your city, you can do this in a few different ways. You can get out there, start driving and notice which areas you get the most rides in repeatedly (this is what I did).
You can also check your app while you’re offline and relaxing at home during different times of day and different days of the week to see which areas are surging most often. You can zoom in on any surging area to see exactly the neighborhoods and streets it’s covering. This can give you a great head start before you hit the road for the first time to experience things yourself.
Another way is to make an educated guess based on your experience and familiarity with your city/suburbs (I did this as well). If you know where your city’s downtown area is or other “hot spots” where lots of people like to hang out, and even up and coming areas where lots of young, professional people live, these are great places to start.
BUT, If you are in the DC, Maryland or Virginia (NOVA) area, you’re in luck. I’m going to share the best places I’ve learned to drive. Please keep in mind, I currently live in DC, so I naturally start out and spend most of my time in DC. Although I do get taken out into Maryland and Virginia often, I’m sure I’m not as familiar with all of the hot spots in those areas as someone who lives there would be.
Popular Areas in DC
2. Columbia Heights
3. 16th Street NW – This street runs from the White House to Silver Spring, MD. In my experience driving on any part of this street will get you a ride 9 times out of 10 either from this street itself or the cross/surrounding streets
4. Wisconsin Avenue – This street runs from The Washington Harbor/Georgetown to Rockville (and even up to Gaithersburg as Route 355). I’ve found that anywhere between Georgetown to Rockville on this street is a great place to get rides.
5. Georgetown/M Street
6. Connecticut Avenue – Another popular street that runs long, from downtown (Farragut North area) to Kensington, MD (and maybe even beyond). Again anywhere along this street is usually good.
7. Downtown (of course) all areas of downtown (Metro Center, Gallery Place, the White House area, The National Mall, Lenfant Plaza, Foggy Bottom, Farragut Square, West End, etc.)
8. The College areas (when school is in, of course) – Howard University, Georgetown University, American University, George Washington University
9. 14th Street NW
10. Capitol Hill
11. The new Southwest Waterfront
12. The Palisades (Mcarthur Blvd, Arizona Ave, Loughboro Rd, etc.)
13. Brookland NE
14. U Street Corridor NW
15. Nationals Park/Navy Yard area
Popular Areas in MD
2. Chevy Chase
4. Rockville (Rockville Pike area)
5. Takoma Park
7. College Park
8. National Harbor/MGM/Tanger Outlets
9. Oxon Hill
13. Baltimore city
Popular Areas in VA
4. Old Town Alexandria
5. Crystal City
6. Pentagon City
Ronald Reagan National Airport/DCA
Sometimes after dropping off in Departures, you can immediately get a ride request from Arrivals without even leaving the airport. This is a perfect scenario and can sometimes happen often. This means you don’t even have to leave the airport or try to head to the waiting lot to get your next ride. All you have to do is loop around the airport and head to Arrivals to pick up your next ride.
If you don’t immediately get a ride from inside the airport, as you’re exiting, take the Crystal Drive exit and ride around Crystal City or Pentagon City. You can get a hit very quickly in these areas depending on the time of day, day of the week, etc.
You can also just head straight to downtown DC, which is 5 – 10 minutes away. Depending on the time of day, you may want to avoid taking 395 back into the city because you never want to get caught in bad traffic without a rider. So to get back quicker with less traffic, take 110, then take the Memorial Bridge exit. That will lead you right to the National Mall and Foggy Bottom/GWU areas. Great areas to be in, and only minutes away from the airport.
Another option is to try one of the other popular surrounding areas in VA depending on what time of day it is and where you want to go. Rosslyn, Clarendon, Alexandria, Old Town Alexandria all are minutes away from the airport. Definitely take advantage of these popular areas as well.
Washington Dulles International Airport/IAD
The good thing about this airport is that you can go to the gas station for a pit stop and stay “online” while taking a break to go to the bathroom, get something to eat, get gas, etc. This is a productive break because when you’re ready to head to the waiting lot you’ll notice that you’ve moved up in the queue without a lot of idle wait time. It’s perfect! I actually have to give credit to my mom for this strategy because she definitely put me on to it!
In the event that you don’t want to wait in the lot (because maybe you don’t need a break and there are too many people in the waiting lot, or maybe you did the “productive break” trick but the waiting lot queue is still moving too slow and you’re ready to get on to your next trip), there are a couple of strategies you can use.
You can take the Dulles Access Road (this road is not labeled the Access Road by the signs, it just says “No Tolls”). Taking the Access road towards DC can be tricky because if you do get a “ping” while you’re on that road, you will not likely be able to get to that person quickly because there are limited exits on that road. So here’s what I do… If I get a “ping” while on the Access road and I’m still near the first 2 exits, I’ll take one of them. That will get me to my rider in a decent amount of time. But if I get a “ping” while I’m further down the Access road where there are no exits, I’ll decline it and keep moving.
I usually take the exit for Route 7 towards Tysons off of the Dulles Access Road. This is about a 15-minute drive from Dulles. Tysons is a hot area where you can very likely get a ride. I also take Route 123 North from Tysons (if I don’t get a ride while there) to come back into the city. This will bring you through McLean (another good area for rides) and into the Palisades once you get into DC, which can also lead you towards AU (American University) or Georgetown depending on the direction you go (again all great areas to continue getting rides).
The other strategy you can use when leaving Dulles is to again take the “No Toll”/Dulles Access Road but then take the first or second exits. This will put you in the Reston/Herndon area. If you’re not familiar with these areas, just use your GPS to direct you to an area you are familiar with (even back into DC if you want). The trick here is to put your GPS setting on “Avoid Tolls”. This will ensure you’ll stay on main streets instead of the toll roads, which keeps you closer to potential rides instead of being on the highway. Now this will be a longer route to get where you’re going, but it could also very easily get you rides a lot quicker than spending a lot of time on the highway.
Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport/BWI
This airport is a little trickier and I actually go here the least out of all the airports. The jury is still out on exactly where the “official” waiting lot is. I found the Cell Phone Lot and asked another Uber driver if that was the Uber waiting lot. He confirmed that it was. And if you read the signs as you enter that lot it says “No Commercial Vehicles”, yet it does NOT say “No For-Hire Vehicles”. As far as I know, rideshare vehicles like Uber and Lyft are considered For-Hire Vehicles and not Commercial Vehicles. So I THINK it’s ok for us to wait in that lot as well. I waited there that one time and got a ride pretty quickly.
I’ve also heard that there’s no true “waiting lot” area instead, cars line up somewhere surrounding the airport. I have no idea where that is because I’ve never been able to find it. What I do know is that multiple times I’ve gotten rides immediately after dropping people off in Departures. So in those cases, I simply circle the airport to get to the Arrivals and pick people up.
Other than that, I’ll just head back to towards DC usually on the BW Parkway and set my Destination option towards DC as well. I do this so I don’t get rides going in the direction of Baltimore because when you drive in and near Baltimore your trips don’t count towards the DMV Quest bonus.
Share Your Thoughts in the Comments Below:
What questions do you have about the popular areas in the city to drive?
What questions do you have about my airport strategies?
Are you already driving and having success in areas I haven’t mentioned? If so, which areas do you find are the best to get rides in?