A Take On Uber vs. Lyft

Uber first came to New York City stirring quite some controversy in the city in 2011. I became an Uber driver then. Lyft followed a few years later in 2014 and I became a Lyft driver. Both of these ridesharing app companies have changed the way the masses are commuting globally these days. They both have changed the way Hail and Pay for a cab works with the use of today’s technology, the smart phone. And  they have become Uber vs. Lyft.

As a veteran cab driver of more than 20 years, I understand many don’t realize or remember how things were before Uber vs. Lyft came onto the scene. This especially in regard to the interaction between the taxi/cab drivers and passengers.

Do you remember? Having to stand on a corner in the freezing rain waving your hands in the air trying to get a driver’s attention to stop and pick you up. Or calling a car service and waiting for the cab to come but not really knowing what time it would arrive. Now it is a matter of tapping your smartphone screen a couple of times and watching the driver come your way.

There are other rideshare services that also provide the same services as Uber and Lyft, such as Juno, but they are limited to a small number of cities. In this blog, I therefore concentrate on the two major contenders in this game that have changed and shaped the transportation industry. So, let’s take a look at how Uber vs. Lyft has changed the billion-dollar ground transportation industry and how they compare.

The Two Rivals

  • Uber: Started out as UberCab luxury service in 2009 , is based in San Francisco and is currently operating worldwide. Uber’s defeat to Didi Chuxing in China meant a loss of a huge foreign market. In Southeast Asia, the Indian Ola Cabs and its partners are a formidable alliance against Uber.
  • Lyft: Was established by Zimride, a long-distance ridesharing company, and is based in San Francisco. It is now operating nationwide with global alliances that include China’s Didi Chuxing, India’s Ola Cabs, and Southeast Asia’s Grab  and Go-Jek.

Availability

Most major cities have enjoyed the benefits of lower prices and more convenient cab/taxi services thanks to Uber and Lyft. Most rural communities are still waiting to take an advantage of getting from one place to another. New York State just recently passed the law (the last state in the union) to allow Uber and Lyft to operate legally.

Ridesharing companies mainly flourish in places where there is a large amount of people concentrated in one area. After all, the rideshare business can be sustainable only where the demand for rides supports the number of drivers contracted to give these rides. This should also mean that drivers are able to make money to compensate for the time they devote to these ridesharing apps.

Uber dominates the largest part of the market and is now available in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide. The up and coming Lyft is currently available in 65 cities in the U.S. As I previously mentioned, Lyft has an international presence through partnering with Ola and Didi.

Winning: Uber

Yes, we all know who is currently winning: Uber. They have accomplished to transform the company name to be synonymous to taking a cab. Much as Q-tips are synonymous to a cotton swab on a stick. Amazing, if you really think about it.  Uber and Lyft compete in most U.S. major cities, but you are more likely to find an Uber driver quicker due to the number of the drivers who are currently using their ridesharing platform.

Pricing

My career as a black car and taxi cab driver spans over more than 20 years and I also function as a manager of a car service in Brooklyn, NY called Flamingo Car Service. I remember when Uber first “bogarded” their way into New York City. I knew it would be a game changer and threaten the local cab companies here in the U.S. and around the world.

The prices of most local cab services are always a bit higher than Uber vs. Lyft. No matter what airport one goes to and needs the cheapest method of transportation to one’s final destination, these mobile applications are always cheaper than the conventional taxi and mom and pop car services.

Most people don’t realize how much impact Uber and Lyft as well as the other ridesharing applications have had. How much damage they have caused to the local cab services many of which have been around for decades.

Nowadays there are several cost comparison apps that help determine who offers the cheapest ride. A few examples would be Zailoo, Up Hail, and Ride Guru. There are also sites on the internet offering cost comparisons Uber vs. Lyft. Before the app era, there were some interesting comparisons in blogs.

In the fall of 2014, an in-depth analysis determined Lyft was slightly cheaper than Uber.  A price comparison by city in early 2016 showed that the trend was still the same, i.e. Lyft is slightly cheaper. An excellent October 2017 comparison that compared not only cost but also speed, driver happiness and rider safety confirmed Lyft is still the cheaper one and the best overall.

My own experience while talking to passengers when driving for Uber vs. Lyft is that most passengers inform me that Lyft is a little cheaper than Uber. But the downside to this normally is that there are more Uber drivers available, which means a shorter waiting time.

To keep the Uber vs. Lyft debate honest, you have to remember that the rates for all cities vary at any given time based on the demand and supply in the city where you are located. Maybe the way really to determine who has the best prices would be to have two people take the same ride at the same time, one with Lyft and one with Uber. Then repeat the test at high demand, low demand and average demand.

Winner: Lyft

Have you heard the horror stories of Uber passenger paying $200 for a 20-minute drive due to the infamous Surge pricing?  Uber’s Surge pricing can go as high as 8 times the normal base rate.

Well, did you know Lyft has Uber beat when it comes to surge pricing rate?  Lyft’s “Prime Time” pricing has a limit of 3 times the normal base rate during high demand hours.

What this means for a passenger is that if they are at an event and demand is high, they would want to request a Lyft ride and save considerably.

Local taxi and cab companies as well as the driver have never been able to truly benefit during peak hours and charge more for a fare (price surge). Based on cost, a Lyft ride could be a preferred choice for the passenger, but they are not available as widely as Uber. Where they both are available, many drivers have signed up for both and toggle between the two to maximize their earnings.

The Service

The application platform for both Uber and Lyft are basically the same. If you own an Android or iOs phone you can download the app for free. The standard functions of these apps will:

  • Automatically locate the rider/passenger, request a ride at their GPS location and send a ping to the driver
  • One of the best features in my opinion: The rider/passenger is able to monitor the driver’s location in real time, so they see the driver arrives as soon and as directly as possible
  • The rider/passenger is notified by the app when the driver arrives cutting down the driver’s waiting time
  • Rate the experience of both after the trip on the app
  • Bills the rider/passenger on their Credit card (cashless) for the fare and enables tipping

Uber is trying to corner every aspect of the transportation market with their services such as UberEATS and UberRUSH, as well as others. Take a look at some of the tiers that Uber currently have to offer to its passenger:

  • Pool: Is basically your modern day car pool, where the rider will share a ride with a fellow rider going in the same direction. Reason of choice: cheaper fare for the rider. Unfortunately, it may be less income for the driver.
  • UberX: The most popular tier. Basically your regular taxi service. The rider can be picked up in a regular vehicle as old as 10 years old. These cars seat no more than four riders at a time.
  • Select: Here you will find a high end sedans with leather seats.
  • Black Car: For example, Chevy Suburban and town cars that are driven by professional drivers. I have worked in this tier for both Uber and Lyft.
  • SUV: UberX with more seating (up to six).
  • LUX: Top of the cars like Mercedes, Escalades and Porsche.
  • Access: Wheelchair accessible service.

Lyft has only 3 tiers:

  • Line: Similar to Uber Pool. The passenger may or may not be sharing the ride with another passenger or two.
  • Lyft: Same as UberX. Seats four and the passenger has the car exclusively.
  • Plus:  Upgraded vehicles have room for six, leather interior, and access to Spotify Premium in-car so the passenger can choose to listen to whatever they like during their ride.

Now let’s look at this further from a passenger point of view. Signing up for both is a simple process on the smartphone. Provide your name, phone number, email address and create a password. Also, before using the service you will be asked to provide your payment method, either a debit or credit card. In addition, both Lyft and Uber accept the popular PayPal. So it’s the same process.

Uber vs. Lyft may still have the rider/passenger wondering which is best. Well, no worries! No matter which one you pick as a passenger you are going to be the winner. Uber vs. Lyft are basically the same destroyer of the mom and pops transportation business that we all grew up with. I understand that new technologies will bring changes and innovations to any industry, but the change in this industry in just the last 6 years has been incredible.

From the driver’s point of view, both Uber and Lyft have a similar application process. Signup is easy, you provide your information and upload the necessary documents, wait for the background check to clear and you are good to go. Neither one offers actual training, but there is plenty of it available on the Internet. My offering is found at rsgguides.com and I will freely answer questions at rideshareguides.com/forum.

The apps work in a similar manner. You get a ride request, accept it, pick up the rider/passenger and transport them to their destination. You get tipped in the app, hopefully. Just saw a passenger survey asking if riders tip their Uber driver. A shocking 48% of respondents answered no, 36% yes and 16% sometime. Tipping in the Uber app will likely change the numbers. With both apps, you can cash in daily or be paid weekly with direct deposit.

Winner: Uber

Just because Uber offers more options and has a wheelchair accessible service. It is a questionable winner position, though. Uber offering far more options leads to a lower demand of drivers for each tier, which definitely has an effect on supply. As I previously mentioned, it appears to me that Uber with their wider range of services is trying to take over the world like Google. But Lyft understands that their tier “Line” and Standard Lyft are the core to ridership.

Most drivers on the platforms work in the high demand tiers for lower rates. My opinion is that Lyft’s business model will outrun Uber in the long run by keeping it simple, which is best for both the passenger and driver.

Being a Driver

So, are you thinking about becoming your own boss and choosing your own hours for either Uber or Lyft or even both simultaneously? May it be part-time or fulltime. Here is what is minimally required to become an Uber or Lyft driver:

  • Current Driver’s License
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Submit to background check (DMV and criminal record check)
  • 21 years of age or older for both Uber and Lyft

I currently work in two markets as a professional driver: the New York City as well as the South Florida market. I definitely make much more when working in New York City. If you are working Uber or Lyft in New York City, you must have a NYC TLC license (hack license), which makes you a professional driver. When I work in South Florida the rates are more than 50 percent that of New York City.

Winner: Lyft

I personally prefer driving for Lyft. When I first started driving for Uber back in 2012, they mainly catered to corporate accounts, which was basically black car. It had a feeling of more stuffiness, if you understand what I am saying. When Lyft first came to NYC, they came with a friendlier vibe. I remember they encouraged the passenger to sit on the front seat and give the driver a fist bump. They seem to care more about the drivers than the Multi-Billion-Dollar Uber.

Summary

Let’s sum up the rivalry of Uber vs. Lyft. Well, the real winner is the passenger. We professional drivers have taken a pay cut with the introduction of Uber, Lyft, Juno, Curb and the rest of them. The passenger is now having a better ride experience for the most part and saving money, as well. Just ask all of the college and low income folks if they nowadays take a car instead of the bus or train due to the lower cost of travel.

So, here you have heard from a veteran driver who has monitored Uber vs. Lyft for years. I give it to Lyft as my winner of the apps on both the driver and passenger side. If you have never tried using the latecomer ridesharing app Lyft, I encourage you to give it a try. If you are looking to become a driver or would like to network with other drivers here in the US or around the world, you need to check out RideShareGuides.com. It is a network of sites that I put together to inform, assist and entertain entrepreneur-minded drivers who want to increase their income by learning from fellow drivers. Membership is currently free of charge and offers some perks.

The bottom line is, both services are near identical in a lot of ways, but if you have the option, Lyft seems to go the extra mile when it comes to taking care of customers and drivers alike. If you’ve only been using Uber, you might want to give Lyft a shot, and vice versa. There is no harm in trying both and making your own Uber vs. Lyft call, but my research says you’ll be happier with Lyft. Which ride sharing service do you prefer and why?

Posted in: Rideshare Drivers

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