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Uber vs. Lyft: What's the Difference and What Should I Use?
Uber and Lyft are two very similar services. Both apps are “carpooling” that you call up on your mobile phone in order to quickly get a ride from the driver in your own car. These two services have become more and more similar over the years, but there are still some key differences between them.
How Uber and Lyft work
These carpooling options basically work in the same way. They allow drivers who are independent contractors and not Uber or Lyft employees to pick you up when you book a ride in the app. You will be charged a standard fee with a base price and a fee per minute per mile. The cost is generally much less than what you would spend on a traditional taxi for the same route.
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That's not the only reason people prefer taxis. You can book them from your phone and see exactly where the driver is and when they will be arriving. This is better than calling a taxi service and wondering when the taxi might arrive. The same app works in any city, or at least the cities where these services are available. Both apps let you choose a pick-up and drop-off location, view nearby vehicles, and track the location of the vehicle as soon as it arrives. At the end of the ride, you can both rate your driver and even tip them through the app if you'd like. Drivers also rate drivers on both services.
For the standard service - known by the name "uberX", or just a "Lyft" in Lyft - the experience is about the same. With either, you can book a larger SUV if you have more people or larger items that need transportation, an upscale luxury car if you want that experience, or a cheaper shared service called uberPOOL or Lyft Line “Is known. I drive in the same direction with other people and get a small discount.
Uber and Lyft are more similar than they used to be
Lyft has cultivated a playful, driver-friendly image. Lyft drivers used to have pink mustaches attached to the front of their car and poked their passengers with their fists (although they no longer do any of those things). Uber built a combative reputation for expanding to cities that did not engage in legal and political battles until after the service began in a city.
At this point, however, Uber and Lyft are more similar as they are different. Experience has shown that you often call an Uber or Lyft and get in a car to find that the same driver drives for both companies. A driver who only drove for Lyft told us that this is typical of drivers who drive full time while others (maybe retirees looking for a bit more work) often stick to a service.
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Both Uber and Lyft check their drivers basically the same way. Anyone can apply to be a driver, and both Uber and Lyft do background checks with the driver's Social Security number before approving it. Uber and Lyft use different companies for background checks, but approval criteria can vary by state. Lyft reruns its background checks annually, while Uber doesn't. According to CNN, it's not uncommon for a driver to be allowed on one platform but not another. Both Uber and Lyft have seen cases of a driver being admitted when they weren't. It is therefore difficult to say if a company's background check process is really better.
They cost about the same
There is hardly any price difference between the two services, in our experience. Competition has meant that Lyft and Uber prices have remained largely the same in many areas. There may be price differences in certain cities, but you can check that you are using some online tools. Use the Uber Fare Estimate and Lyft Fare Estimate tools for your city (or any city you're visiting) and plug the same drop-off and drop-off addresses into both to compare prices.
For example, a ride from Portland International Airport in Portland, Oregon to the Portland Art Museum in downtown is an estimated $ 25 to $ 32 on an UberX and $ 27 on a standard Lyft. If you hit the details, you'll find that both Uber and Lyft charge $ 0.20 per minute and $ 1.21 per mile in this city. These are estimates only and the actual charge will depend on whether traffic is slowing you down.
Both services cost more at peak times - times with high demand. Uber calls this "surge pricing" and Lyft calls it "prime time". This is to encourage drivers to head out to do more pickups during times when a lot of people need drives.
Uber is more common than Lyft
While these services are broadly similar, there is one big difference. Uber is available in 84 countries around the world, while Lyft is mostly only available in the US. In late 2017, Lyft launched its first city outside of the United States in Toronto, Canada. If you travel internationally or live outside of the US, plan on using Uber instead of Lyft.
While Uber and Lyft are available in many (but not all US cities can experience drive availability gaps. While a large city like San Francisco has many drivers for both Uber and Lyft, our experience has shown that smaller cities often have more Uber drivers than Lyft drivers, Uber is still the bigger name here, and it can show.
If you like Lyft, don't let that distract you and give it a try. However, you may want to have both the Uber and Lyft apps installed so that you can call an Uber when you are in a place where not many Lyfts are available.
Both Uber and Lyft offer a more expensive service, with high-end black cars and professional drivers. Uber has UberBLACK, while Lyft has Lyft Premier, Lyft Lux and Lyft SUV. But here too, Uber was the first to introduce this level of service. You may come across cities where UberBLACK is available but Lyft's luxury auto services are not.
The elephant in the room: Uber's bad behavior
Without it, it's impossible to compare Uber and Lyft about talking about Uber's bad reputation. This is not just about Uber's internal culture or violating laws that appear to be intended to protect the taxi industry. In October 2016, hackers stole the personal information of around 57 million people from Uber's servers. 50 million drivers had names, email addresses and phone numbers stolen. That's not too much information if you're just a driver. But 7 million drivers were also accessed and the attackers acquired 600,000 driver license numbers.
Instead of responsibly disclosing the hack, the hackers overpaid $ 100,000 to erase the data and hide this attack for more than a year, which is obviously against the law. Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who took office in September 2017, told Bloomberg, "None of this should have happened, and I won't make any excuses for it."
While Uber has been trying to improve its performance, it's not surprising that many people have been shunning Uber lately because of Lyft's anti-consumer behavior. This could explain why Lyft is now growing faster than Uber. In cities with great Lyft coverage, this can be enough to motivate you to choose Lyft instead of Uber.
It's worth noting, however, that a lot of the things Uber is criticized for are things Lyft does, too. Both services use independent contractors instead of employees, pay their drivers roughly the same, and offer a version of "surge pricing" that charges more at peak times. Both services are working on self-driving cars to one day replace these drivers too.
Photo credit: LeStudio / Shutterstock.com
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