Uber vs Lyft: Which ride-hailing service is better for you?

Uber and Lyft are two of the largest ride-hailing services in the United States. They are similar in most aspects, but they also differ in many ways. If you are wondering which of the two services is better for you, this Uber vs Lyft comparison should help you make the right decision.

Uber vs Lyft: Coverage areas

Uber is bigger than Lyft with a much wider presence. It operates in more than 50 countries worldwide. By comparison, Lyft is present only in the US and Canada. In the US, both Uber and Lyft cover almost all cities and towns. But in smaller towns and rural regions, you are much more likely to find an Uber than Lyft. Uber has a clear advantage in terms of coverage area.

The app interface

The core features of the two apps are similar. When you launch the app, it uses your location data to pin where you are. You’ll need a steady Internet connection (cellular or WiFi) to book a ride. You can move the pin around on the map or enter the pick-up address if it’s different from where you are.

In both apps, you have to enter your destination, choose the type of car you want – shared, economy, SUV, or luxury vehicles – and the app will present an estimated cost and duration of your ride. You can add multiple drop-off points if you are sharing the ride with your friends or want to pick someone up along the way. Once you book the ride, they both show you the real-time visual of the driver moving in your direction.

Both Uber and Lyft let you save frequently used locations such as your office and home. They also allow users to share the ride with a stranger heading in the same direction. It helps bring down the cost of your ride. Uber calls this feature UberPool while Lyft calls it Shared ride.

Once the driver reaches your location, they’ll wait for five minutes before they can cancel the ride. Uber starts billing after two minutes while Lyft starts the ride after just one minute of the driver arriving at your location. When your trip is complete, the credit card stored in the app is billed. You’ll get a receipt of your ride and bill via email.

The next time you launch the app, you’ll be asked to rate the driver on a scale of 1 to 5. Drivers can also rate the riders and give feedback.

Vehicle options

Uber has a relatively wider range of vehicle options than Lyft. The pricing varies depending on the type of vehicle you choose. UberPool is the cheapest option, where you have to share the ride with someone else. There is the UberX option with seating for four, and UberXL option with seating for up to six people.

If you want a premium vehicle with seating for four people, go for UberSelect. There are also more premium options such as UberBlack, UberBlack SUV, and UberLux.

Lyft has fewer options, but they cover the requirements of all the different types of customers. The Shared ride lets you share the ride with a stranger, the regular Lyft is for when you want a car with seating for four people, and Lyft XL is there if you want a vehicle with seating for up to six people. It also has Lyft Lux and Lyft Black for people who want luxury options.

Uber vs Lyft: Pricing

This is where things get really interesting. Both services break down your trip fees by the distance, duration of the trip, service fee, and a minimum charge. If you cancel the ride after a specified time, they both charge a fixed fee of $5. Lyft has a lower cost per minute, but it charges more than Uber based on the distance.

Prices on both services fluctuate throughout the day based on demand and traffic. So, there is no way of knowing which of the two is cheaper. If you want to save some money on your rides, consider installing both apps on your smartphone. Enter your destination in both apps and compare the prices in real-time to see which one is cheaper.

Both services have a dynamic pricing strategy. Uber calls is “Surge” pricing while Lyft calls it “Prime Time.” If there are too many riders and fewer vehicles, they both significantly increase the fare to attract more drivers to the location.

You can escape from Lyft’s Prime Time pricing by walking to another nearby location, which often works because it has a relatively smaller heat map. Uber’s heat map tends to be larger, making it difficult for you to escape the Surge pricing.

Uber has received widespread criticism for rabidly increasing prices during emergency situations such as hurricanes and terror attacks. Lyft has also found itself in PR troubles in the past for similar reasons.

Overall, Lyft tends to be a little less expensive than Uber. Its pricing is also far more transparent than that of Uber. Lyft’s receipt is thorough, helping you understand the breakup of the costs.

Uber vs Lyft: Rider safety

Both Uber and Lyft have policies in place to ensure that their drivers are safe for riders, and they drive newer cars. They check the background of drivers, adding only those that have no criminal record or serious traffic violations. They require the cars not to be older than 15 years.

Uber has courted far too many controversies in the last few years over rider safety. Lyft isn’t immune either. In the past, Uber riders have accused the drivers of attacking them. Female Uber riders have filed lawsuits against Uber after being sexually assaulted by drivers. One woman in Los Angeles had accused an Uber driver of kidnapping her.

Lyft has a comparatively better track record. Last year, reports surfaced that Lyft employees had gained illegal access to user data, which violated the privacy of customers. But the company has since implemented restrictions to prevent its employees from accessing customer data.

Conclusion

Uber has a much wider reach than Lyft, which ensures a reliable service even in smaller towns and rural areas. If you are traveling internationally, you’ll probably be using Uber in the destination country. But Lyft has an edge in terms of pricing. It also has a better track record for rider safety.



About the Author

Vikas Shukla
Although he has a background in finance and holds an MBA, Vikas Shukla is a technology reporter. He has a strong interest in gadgets, gizmos, and science. He writes regularly on these topics. - He can be contacted by email at vshukla@valuewalk.com