Kathy Reid has one thing on her agenda this week. She plans to drive. And drive. Then drive some more.
Reid drives for Uber and is expecting to bring in a big haul this week as the ride-hailing company prepares for record ridership in the Twin Cities ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"I am working straight through. I have my tonics lined up," she said at a pep rally Monday to pump up drivers for a week when thousands of locals and visitors in need of transportation will be tapping their apps. "I'm ready to make some serious cash."
Like Uber, its chief competitor Lyft also is bracing for a spike in ride requests. The company lobbied its drivers to forgo watching the game, enticing them with the prospect of earning a bigger paycheck than usual. "Big Game, Bigger Earnings: Drive This Sunday," a plea on its website says.
Lyft has been boosting its roster of drivers over the past two months to ramp up for the Super Bowl wave that is expected to crest Thursday through Sunday, said Chapin Hansen, Lyft's Twin Cities market manager.
"It's all hands on deck for this tremendous opportunity and awesome responsibility," he said. "We have seen a large increase in driver applications that started months ago and is still continuing, even in these last two weeks leading up to the game."
To do that, Lyft sent text messages to current drivers asking them to clear their schedules. The company also had asked drivers to refer others to get behind the wheel, said Lyft driver Stan Wiebe. This month Lyft held information sessions where drivers were told of big earnings potential, he said.
Uber signed up hundreds of new drivers for the Super Bowl and hundreds of others who have been on haitus have resumed driving, said spokeswoman Charity Jackson.
Betsey DeGree, 47, of White Bear Lake, started with Uber last Saturday. She wanted to get in on the Super Bowl craze.
"It will be fun to live vicariously through everybody," she said. "I have a trip coming up. I'll make money so this is perfect. I told my four teenagers I will be working all day and all night. Don't look for me this weekend because I will be out."
But both companies say it's hard to say exactly how many drivers will be on the roads since they pick and choose the hours they want to work.
Wiebe, who also drives for Uber, said he is choosing to drive more hours this week than he usually does. Though he may make lots more than the $25 per hour gross he earns on normal days, he also is a tad skeptical of the promise, too. Especially if there are too many drivers on the road.
"I think we will be busy, but trips could take so much longer that you won't do much better than minimum fare," he said. "I'm doing it for the [Super Bowl] experience."
Surge pricing likely
Whether or not drivers do well, customers likely will be shelling out big bucks. Surge pricing generally kicks in when demand rises and drivers are in short supply, like when the big game lets out.
"We expect fares will be the highest directly following the game because people will be leaving celebrations and in need of a safe ride home," Jackson said. "Riders can always use UberXL to ride with friends and use 'Multiple Stops' and our 'Split Fare' features to help keep costs low."
Hansen said Lyft is doing everything it can to have enough drivers available to keep rates affordable.
Both companies are warning riders that it may take longer for drivers to reach them. They suggest using designated pickup and drop-off spots, or walking several blocks away from congested areas.
Communication is key on both ends to prevent people from getting in the wrong car, company officials said, as many riders may be temped to hop in the first car they see. Riders should text or call their driver to provide their pickup location, Hansen said. Uber is telling drivers to check riders' names, be patient and "put on a happy face," said Uber Midwest General Manager Brian Maloney.
Reid, a driver since 2014, said she's ready for a lucrative week, and had a message for her fellow drivers.
"See ya out there," she said.