Uber and Lyft are both big competitors in the private hire taxi industry, so much so that many drivers can now even purchase bespoke Uber insurance. These ride-hailing apps have revolutionised the way in which customers pre-book taxi journeys. In this guide, we provide a brief comparison of the two popular services.
If you’re planning a vacation or attending a conference and don’t have your car, you will likely have two specific apps on your smartphone for this very reason: Lyft and Uber. Although, how do you select which ride-hailing service should be used at any given time? Especially when considering that both companies offer more or less the same service.
Both of these applications largely operate and carry the same functionality: Open the app, enter your destination, select your ride type, view cost and confirm the journey. The apps even allow you to pinpoint your driver’s location along with his/her ETA. However, each offering has its own differences. Before choosing, here’s what you should know about each service.
Uber – The best choice for international use
Launching more than a decade ago, in 2009 Uber was the first ride-hailing app on the market. It’s so ubiquitous that millions of customers around the globe will utter the phrase “get an Uber” when they are referring to a ride-hailing service. The company has more than 90 million monthly active riders, along with 3.9 million drivers across 63 countries. It is much larger than Lyft; which only operates in North America.
Having been around for so long, the app provides a friendly user experience, showing you a map of your current location along with a dialog box that asks you to enter your destination, allowing you to find a ride immediately or schedule one for later on. You have multiple options when choosing a ride too, each with their own displayed price.
The firm also offers its own Uber Rewards membership where you can earn points for future rides. These points can even go towards Uber Eats food orders. In some cities, regular riders can register for the company’s Ride Pass subscription service, helping frequent travellers save money on private hire travel, although it isn’t always clear how much you’re likely to save.
The company does not come without criticism though. Uber has faced thousands of sexual assault allegations over the years, particularly from female passengers. Furthermore, large numbers of unauthorised drivers, some of which are convicted criminals, have appeared on the Uber app in major cities around the world. Uber has countered this by adding new safety features within its app helping riders verify they are entering the right vehicle along with the driver’s identity and are able to contact the emergency services.
Lyft – The best choice for frequent riders
Launching three years after Uber, in 2012, the second-largest known taxi-hailing service is Lyft. They experienced rapid growth as their main competitor was embroiled in a number of legal challenges, including the departure of Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former CEO. The company also has an app for iOS and Android users, just like Uber. Lyft boasts more than 30 million riders and approximately 2 million drivers across Canada and the US. It’s worth mentioning that it does not operate outside North America.
Unsurprisingly, Lyft’s mobile app also works very similarly to Uber’s. Once opened, a map will show you your current location and a dialog box will appear asking you where you want to go. You can type in your destination and find a ride straight away or schedule one for another time.
Once your destination has been selected, you will be able to choose from a few different levels of service. Like Uber, there is also an option for a shared ride, allowing you and other passengers to save money if you’re all heading in the same direction. The firm also offers customers bike, car and scooter rentals.
Lyft launched a new subscription service in December 2019 for frequent riders, called Lyft Pink. This replaced some of its previous plans. The new plan is targeted at riders who use the service at least two or three times per week. It gives customers a 15% discount off every ride and costs $20 per month. Additionally, subscribers will also benefit from priority airport pickups and three covered cancellation fees per month. Their subscription costs $5 less each month in comparison to Uber’s and clarifies how much money consumers can expect to save without any ambiguity.
Similar to Uber, Lyft has also received its fair share of sexual assault accusations. Just like their main competitor, they have also included new safety features within their mobile app in response to the above.
In summary, both private hire taxi-hailing apps largely offer a very similar experience. This is attributed to the fact that there is a lot of crossover as a number of drivers in North America work for both platforms. This figure is backed up by a 2019 survey from The Rideshare Guy, which identified that 84% of 1,000 Lyft and Uber drivers stated that they work for more than one service.
Both companies have very similar pricing, whereby it fluctuates based on current demand and traffic levels. To get the cheapest price, you will want to open both apps on your smartphone and see how they compare with one another at any given time. Each service has varying levels of activity dependent on the town/city it is being used. This means one option could be better than the other depending on where you live and how many available drivers there are.
For international travellers, Uber will be your only option. US-based customers who use private hire taxi-hailing apps frequently may be better suited with Lyft’s new Pink subscription. Security will always be an important factor for any passenger, and both companies stress that the overwhelming large majority of passengers will not experience any incidents.