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Tired of trying to hail a cab but need a ride on the fly? Don’t live in an area where it’s easy to catch a cab? Looking for an alternative to driving for a night out on the town? Try Uber or Lyft, the two most popular ride-sharing services that are both excellent alternatives to a traditional taxi. The ease of using Uber and Lyft is almost too good to be true. But times are changing, folks — so much so that taxi services are feeling the market squeezed by these services. Uber and Lyft dominate the market for easy, on-demand rides. You simply beckon with a mere click on your smartphone. But which one is better for riders? Here, we compare and review Lyft vs Uber so you can decide which service is best for you.
What to Expect as a Passenger
Before we get to our reviews, a quick guide about how these services work. Both Uber and Lyft are mobile app-based services that make it easy to find and summon a nearby available driver, as well as pay for your ride, all through your smartphone. Drivers hired by Uber and Lyft must undergo background and driving record checks, and in most cases they use their own cars, which are held to a high standard of upkeep and cleanliness. (Check our article, Driving for Lyft vs Uber, if you’re interested in becoming a driver.)
Lyft launched in 2012, and after just four years in business, it’s starting to give ride-hailing giant Uber a run for its money. Lyft has expanded quickly into more than 200 cities and 31 states in the U.S. Lyft has its devoted followers, who are typically looking for a more casual, quick ride to their destination. Lyft doesn’t offer the kind of high-end rides, like Town Cars, that Uber is known for.
With Lyft you have six choices:
- Line, which is like Uber’s Pool service where the driver can pick up other Lyft riders along your route
- Lyft, up to 4 passengers
- Plus, up to 6 passengers
- Premier, up to 4 passengers
- Lux, up to 4 passengers
- Lux SUV, up to 6 passengers
The following are Washington, D.C. rates as of Jan. 26, 2016, for Lyft’s most basic service; however, rates change fairly frequently.
- Base fare: $0.75
- Cost per mile: $1.04
- Cost per minute: $0.18
- Safe ride fee: $1.65
- Minimum fare: $5.00
- Cancellation: $5.00
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Since its inception in 2009, Uber has dominated the independent transportation/ride-sharing market. Uber is located in 68 countries around the world and has a huge presence in North America — nearly 200 larger to medium-sized cities and locations where there are large university campuses.
Uber offers a wider variety of ride choices compared to Lyft (although not all options are available in all of their locations). But in larger cities, your choices include:
- UberX, which accommodates up to 4 passengers
- UberXL, a larger car for groups up to 6 (often an SUV)
- UberSELECT, nicer vehicle than UberX and UberXL
- UberBLACK, a more professional set of wheels, similar to hiring a high-end town car with a professional driver
- UberSUV, premium luxury version of UberXL, seats 6 passengers
- UberLUX, luxurious, high-end car, seats 4 passengers
- UberCAB, similar to taxi service
- Pool, where the driver picks up other Uber riders along your route
- In some locations Uber also offers Uber Events, where you can hire their services for your event guests
The following are Washington, D.C. rates as of Jan. 26, 2016, for Uber’s most basic service, UberX; however, rates change fairly frequently.
- Base fare: $1.15
- Cost per mile: $1.02
- Cost per minute: $0.17
- Safe ride fee: $1.35
- Minimum fare: $5.00
- Cancellation: $5.00
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How Does Uber Work?
For passengers, Uber and Lyft work in pretty similar ways via their smartphone apps. Check out this video by Uber to see how easy it is to find a ride on the fly.
Which Comes Out on Top? Lyft vs Uber
Lyft and Uber are pretty comparable in a majority of categories including customer service, off-peak pricing, ease of use and app performance. Lyft has less geographical coverage, but they’ll also save you money during peak driving times.
One of the biggest differences between Uber and Lyft is the ride experience. If you’re looking for a more casual, sit-up-front, chatty kind of ride, Lyft is for you. It’s not that you can’t find friendly Uber drivers, but overall the Uber ride experience and company vibe is more professional. For some people, this could be perfect; for others it could be too stuffy.
While both Lyft and Uber are committed to providing an alternative transportation option, Lyft’s mission is geared more toward the positive environmental impact that results from ride sharing, according to Lyft CMO Kira Wampler as quoted in a National Public Radio article. Fewer cars means a reduced footprint on our planet. This focus may be enough to sway some potential riders to go with Lyft.
Who Wins the Race?
As you can see, there’s no clear winner in the Uber vs Lyft showdown. Each has its pros and cons, and it really comes down to availability in your location and what kind of ride you’re looking for. We highly recommend both Uber and Lyft for the would-be rider.
If you’ve tried both Lyft and Uber, do you prefer one service over the other?