If you need to get from here to there and driving yourself isn’t an option it’s no secret that rideshare services have become ubiquitous in most major cities. They match people who need a ride with a car and driver. The two biggest, Lyft and Uber, compete with taxis to give you a cheaper ride, and with public transportation to give the you private-driver experience.
How Do Uber & Lyft Work?
Anyone who can’t drive or doesn’t want to can order a ride with the press of a button on the Lyft or Uber app. Fundamentally both services are the same. Tell a driver where you are and the app will estimate how long before a driver arrives, how long the trip will take, and how much it will cost. The driver picks you up and drops you off. Both are connected to your credit card or another electronic payment method so you don’t need to worry about cash, and you can decide to add a tip to the cost of your ride. In some areas, both services allow customers to reserve a car several days in advance.
For those interested in driving, both Lyft and Uber let drivers make as much money as they have time for. Some drivers consider it their full-time job while others do it to earn extra money in their spare time. Some people drive simply because they like to and want to provide the service in areas where there aren’t many taxi or public transportation options.
What Are the Differences Between the Two?
Lyft and Uber have the same cost structure for an average ride during non-peak hours. A ride in a large city might cost more than the same distance in a small town due to the amount of time spent in traffic. Both services increase their prices during peak times, such as rush-hour traffic or when there’s high demand around a specific event. They’ll both likely be cheaper than a taxi but more expensive than public transportation.
Lyft is available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and a handful of cities in Canada. In 40 states it’s available throughout the entire state, not just a metro area. Uber has a much wider service area, being available in every U.S. state and Washington, D.C., as well as major cities in about 60 countries.
Lyft features Amp, a colored light display that alerts passengers to their car approaching. Lyft think this helps both drivers and passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing locate their rides if they miss the “ping” from a cell phone. And by using a unique color for passengers it’s easier for a rider to find his or her car in a crowded area like after a concert.
What Kind of Rides Can I Get?
Uber and Lyft offer a variety of services based on cost and the number of people in your party.
Uber Ride Types
- uberX is their basic sedan service for rides for up to 4 people.
- uberXL provides service for up to 6 people.
- uberSUV provides a luxury SUV for up to 6 people.
- uberPOOL lets customers who are traveling in the same direction share rides and share the cost.
- uberBLACK provides rides in black town cars for up to 4 people.
- uberWAV provides rides in wheelchair- and scooter-accessible vehicles by drivers trained in assisting passengers.
- uberSELECT provides stylish, high-end cars with top-rated drivers for up to 4 passengers for special occasions.
- uberTAXI lets you hail a taxicab from the Uber app.
- You may request a car seat, and the driver arrives with a children’s booster car seat.
Lyft Ride Types
- Original Lyft provides rides in a sedan that seats up to 4 riders.
- Lyft Shared provides carpool rides for multiple customers going in the same direction.
- Lyft XL provides rides in a larger vehicle that seats up to 6 people.
- Lyft Premier provides rides in high-end vehicles for 4 passengers.
- Lyft Lux provides premium service in luxury vehicles.
- Lyft Black is a premium black-car service with luxury vehicles.
- Lyft Black XL provides rides in a premium black SUV that seats up to 6 people.
- You may request a car with a car seat provided by the driver.
- In some cities you can use Lyft for a scooter rental.
When one company offers a deal or discount, the other usually quickly offers a similar deal. Different events may partner with one or the other to be their official rideshare service, allotting specific pick-up zones. Some airports also give preference to one service over the other and have set aside pick-up zones.
Safety Requirements for Cars and Drivers
Riders can expect a certain level of safety with both the driver and the car when they get picked up.
Uber drivers must meet the minimum age to drive in your city plus have a certain amount of driving experience so, in most cases this ends up being around 21 years old. You must have a valid U.S. driver’s license, a car that meets their specifications, and proof of insurance. If you want to drive for the delivery service Uber Eats, the specifications are slightly less strict than if you want to drive passengers. They have two different application processes on their website for the two different services.
To drive with Lyft you must be at least 21 years old and comply with any state and local requirements, including having a current driver’s license, valid plates and current registration, and proof of insurance.
Using the Apps as a Passenger
Passengers can rate the drivers and decide how much of a tip to add to their fare. Lyft tends to have a more playful attitude and passengers seem to find their drivers friendlier and more professional. In areas where both services are available, Lyft may be a cheaper ride but there may be a longer wait since there are fewer Lyft drivers. It pays to check the prices and wait times for both before requesting a ride. Riders can save money by using uberPool or Lyft Shared, where riders going in the same direction can get picked up and dropped off along the way.
Using the Apps as a Driver
As a driver you’re an independent contractor. You’re responsible for your own vehicle maintenance and the other costs associated with driving, however, they may be tax deductible since they are costs related to your income. You are responsible for managing how you pay taxes on the income earned. Both companies have plans to help you rent or buy a car if you don’t already have one.
They both pay on a weekly basis, or more often upon request, by direct deposit and they both allow drivers to keep 100% of their tips. With Lyft, drivers get about 80% of the price of the ride and with Uber they get about 75%. Many drivers say they prefer Lyft for the work environment although they can earn more money with Uber due to the larger variety of services, especially with its food delivery, that offer more driving opportunities.
The Bottom Line
The best service for you may come down to what’s available in your area. In areas where both companies have a presence, passengers should do a cost comparison to see which service is cheaper for each ride, unless they’ve developed loyalty to one brand over the other. Full-time drivers often end up driving for both so they can take advantage of as many trips as possible.