HubTelegram: Uber’s just about the same, with some cities going as low as $0.75 a mile, while others tip out at about $2, depending on how congested or clear the area of the town or city you’re traveling in might be.
The company’s lower-end, better-bargain Uber X service runs just about the same price as your average Lyft, which makes sense considering both employ their drivers own cars as opposed to blacked out SUVs or specialized Lincoln towncars.
Both participate in programs that will vary the rate you pay depending on the time of day and day of the week. Wednesday at noon? That’ll be bargain basement pricing. Saturday night at 2am? Expect to pay at least triple, if not even more, depending on which service you go with.
Lyft’s “Prime Time” price structure caps out at three times the regular rate, while Uber’s “Surge Pricing” can go as high as seven or eight times the normal cost during peak hours.
Peak hours change everything. Lyft’s “Prime Time” pricing caps out at three times the normal base rate during peak hours. Uber’s “Surge Pricing,” however, can reach as high as eight times the base rate. Plus, we’re willing to bet that if you’re trying to head out on a Saturday night, or need a ride home from the bar after it’s closed, you’re going to run into surge pricing, just because, well, everyone else is looking for a ride too There are countless Surge horror stories out there about outrageous Uber bills, but if you search for stories around expensive Lyft rides, they’re few and far between. Because of that and the pennies on the dollar you might save in some areas, Lyft is going to squeak by as the pricing winner.
Before starting this experiment, I had never taken a Lyft before. When the second half of the month arrived I was really excited to finally try them out. I had a lot of presumptions of what Lyft would be like. I had visions of fist bumps from my drivers as I got in their vehicle. I pictured the cars a little less luxurious than those of my Uber rides, but all donning that friendly bright pink mustache on front to greet me. In my mind, Uber was a lot like my sophisticated older cousin with kids, and Lyft was more like my fun younger college-aged brother—the one still trying to figure his shit out in life. While this presumption remained true for my very first Lyft ride (ask me about the story on Twitter and maybe I’ll tell you), the two services ended up being more alike than different.
In fact, Uber and Lyft ended up being almost identical experiences for me. A big part of that is likely because most ridesharing drivers drive for both companies. It turns out about 60 percent of my drivers drove for both Uber and Lyft. I estimate that number is a little bigger already, since I had a lot of Uber drivers who told me they were planning on signing up for Lyft soon, too. In a year when it seems like Uber drivers have had a ton of bad press, it’s interesting how much of an overlap there is in the employee pool. In other words: Bad people can work for both companies, they are not specific to one company over the other.
One thing Lyft drivers mentioned frequently (and something that might help Lyft filter out those “bad” drivers) was their mentorship program. Before Lyft applicants are approved to drive for the company, they must meet with an experienced Lyft driver, or mentor. The mentor sits in the passenger seat while the applicant drives them around for 30 minutes. The mentor then has to submit a rating to Lyft on the applicant as a driver and how comfortable their driver was holding a conversation. The Lyft-ers I spoke with believed this helps make sure Lyft is only picking the best drivers possible.
In an experiment run by a columnist at Insurance Zebra magazine, the two competitors just barely missed out on a tie, with Lyft beating Uber by only six seconds, 4:10 to 4:16.
Of course, this result can vary quite a bit depending on the city you’re in. Uber is still the dominant force in both the US and Europe over Lyft by a wide margin, thanks in no small part to its venture-capital backed investors and fleets of swanky new rides.
But there’s something more, something other people have written about far more eloquently than I can: There is an element to just getting in my car and driving around that’s very therapeutic. I didn’t fully realize this until February 1, when I was finally able to drive again. That first day back was one of those gorgeous Austin days that makes everyone who doesn’t live here want to move here. I hopped in my Volkswagen, rolled the windows down, and headed South on Mopac. I took a big loop around the city, driving down streets I don’t normally take, shifting gears, feeling the car I own beneath me and the city I live in around me. Ridesharing may work on just about every practical level, but driving is an emotional experience, too—one I wouldn’t want to give up.