Uber, Lyft, or Taxi: Which is Best for You?

In 2009, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp banded together to create Uber, a service that would revolutionize the way people can get around in their city.  Competition quickly rose in the form of Lyft.  Plus, there are still the traditional taxis.  While the service that is best for you largely depends on your personal preference, here are some ways the services differ.


Uber: The Original and Most Popular

Uber changed the world and has dominated the ride-hailing market to the point where the app’s name is now also being used as a verb, as in “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll just Uber there.”  Uber was the first to build a better mousetrap of the traditional taxicab model, and it has seen the most publicity, both good and bad.  One of the benefits of riding with Uber is that you’ll probably get picked up very quickly, since there are so many Uber drivers that just opening the app will usually show five or six cars in your immediate area if you’re in an urban area.  Another benefit is the rock-bottom pricing, so long as the current price isn’t surging.  Uber is the cheapest ride on the market.


Drawbacks include Uber’s questionable vetting process for their drivers (though background checks on drivers have become both slightly stricter and more frequent for drivers who have been in Uber’s system for a while, and some states require drivers to take a defensive driving course before being allowed to drive through the app).  Surge pricing can also be problematic, as prices can soar unbelievably high during certain times, though riders are fully informed of the rate at which their ride will be charged.


Lyft: The Quirky and Fun

A few years after Uber had established its stranglehold on the market, Lyft emerged as a worthy competitor.  The biggest difference between the two apps is the corporate culture.  Lyft drivers are encouraged to make their cars unique and memorable.  For the first few years of Lyft’s existence, every ride was supposed to begin with a fist bump between the driver and passengers.


Finally, there’s the eye-catching items that identify Lyft drivers, you may recognize them for watching the top 5 tv shows that featuring public transportation sets: originally a giant furry monstrosity attached to the front of drivers’ cars, then a smaller light-up pink mustache on drivers’ dashboards.  The mustache was finally retired last year, and now the light-up dashboard displays a color for passengers to look for.  The benefits of riding with Lyft are that the drivers tend to be a tiny bit happier and you have a chance of getting a very fun and unique ride, and it’s only a few cents more per mile than Uber.  Unfortunately, even though they put a different name on it, Lyft has a similar policy of raising the price while demand is high, and that means a short ride can cost big money.


Taxi: The Old-Fashioned and Well-Regulated

Taxis have been around since the 1890s.  For over a century, they were the only option for a person looking to hail a ride, and taxi companies are understandably set in their ways. This traditional approach can be a good thing in some ways.  Hailing a cab doesn’t require a smartphone, for one thing.  Cab drivers are more strictly regulated than drivers for Uber or Lyft, so some people may feel safer in their vehicles.  While they generally charge more than the apps, they also have a lot more regulations regarding how much they can charge at any given time, so prices don’t usually reach three digits unless riders are taking rather long trips.


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