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Locally Developed App Aggregates Data To Help Rideshare Drivers Maximize Profits

Driving for companies like Lyft or Uber can be a hustle. Once you factor in gas and the cut these companies get from each ride, drivers might even lose money some days.

An app developed in Pittsburgh claims to increase a driver’s profits by an average of 39 percent with a data-driven approach.

For example, the Gridwise app provides information about potential business at Pittsburgh International Airport on a neat graph showing passenger volume in half-hour increments.

“Let’s say 5:30 here, 770 passengers arriving at the time,” said co-founder and CEO Ryan Green. “This is how many drivers are at the airport as well, and now you have a well-rounded picture of supply and demand at the airport.”

Gridwise is one of several apps that’ve popped up in recent years that cater to rideshare drivers. It’s free, generating revenue from advertisements.

In addition to airport data, Gridwise provides information on weather, sporting events and concerts. It also logs mileage, which might be especially helpful during tax season for people who drive for multiple services.

Commenters in a Facebook group for Pittsburgh rideshare drivers seemed ambivalent or uninterested in Gridwise, though one man named Bill Hooton said the app isn’t necessary.

“Knowledge of the roads, events demographics, weather, college schedules, major holidays, parts of town all factor into being successful. Treat this like the business it is, and you’ll do fine,” wrote Hooton in a Facebook message. “Or at least as fine as ever-decreasing fares will allow.”

But Green argued Gridewise saves drivers time by aggregating that information.  

“You know, if someone is willing to create a solution that tees up all the information that I’m used to ... manually researching, I’ll take that all day,” said Green.

Soon Green will find out if he's correct about his app's usefulness to drivers. He said he plans to expand Gridwise to all major U.S. cities this year.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.