Are There Any Real Differences Between Uber and Lyft?

In 2019, can anyone really say there is much difference between Uber and Lyft? Not so fast – there are still key differences between Uber and Lyft! Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur analyzes a recent article breaking down these differences, and shares his thoughts on how drivers can still take advantage of these differences.

As part of my job as a contributor to The Rideshare Guy, I peruse my Google News feed for interesting stories about Uber and Lyft and anyone in the gig economy.  Recently, I came upon an article titled:  Uber and Lyft drivers reveal the biggest differences they’ve noticed between the 2 ride-hailing giants.

As a long time driver, I was curious to see what this article would present as the big differences between Uber and Lyft.  I feel that as time goes by, Uber and Lyft are becoming virtually indistinguishable, and I was curious to see if my fellow drivers agreed with me.

Below is how the drivers interview feel, and my comments in agreement or disagreement.

Uber is More Organized Than Lyft

According to one driver,

“Uber is far more organized and understands that by helping the drivers, it improves the customer experience,”

I really have to disagree with this driver.  Let us not forget that Uber deactivated me for 6 weeks for absolutely no reason. Uber was so disorganized that no one there could tell me why I was deactivated nor when I would get back on line.

And don’t get me started on Uber’s customer service.  I have had several absolutely horrible and frustrating experiences.  The quote above just goes to show the power of Uber’s marketing campaign.  Unfortunately, Uber does not walk the talk.

Lyft, on the other hand, has not done anything like deactivating me unreasonably for long periods of time. While I may be skeptical of some of the things they email me (or have pop up in my app), they sometimes pan out, like how I am saving money with Lyft + Geico’s insurance program.

Lyft still has the same customer service frustrations as Uber, but in general, I’d say Lyft is more organized than Uber.

Lyft’s Auto-Queue is Annoying

Here is another driver’s comment:

“Lyft sometimes adds passengers to my queue without asking.”

When I am driving with a passenger in my car, having a chat, I do not want to have to pay attention to whether my Uber app is going to offer me another ride.  With Lyft, when a new ride comes in, it is automatically added to my queue.

I have to disagree with this driver: I love this feature. I can relax and drive, make my drop off, and then go to my next passenger.  This is one of my biggest gripes with Uber.  I have asked Uber to add Auto Queue for years, but they don’t.  Sometimes an Uber ping comes in and I miss it.  I hate to miss a ride!

It would be nice if both companies gave drivers the option to turn auto-queue on or off. Why haven’t they done this yet? I have no idea..

Uber and Lyft do have some key differences beyond the auto-queue feature. Read more about key differences between Uber and Lyft’s app features.

Lyft Drivers Are Less Sophisticated

Check out this comment:

“Lyft riders in my area are like Walmart shoppers whereas the Uber riders are like Macy’s shoppers,” 

This is what a New Jersey driver wrote.  In San Francisco, this could not be further from the truth.  Uber passengers are, in general, very cheap and loathe to pay a tip.  Lyft passengers, on the other hand, do pay more in tips and are quite a bit more friendly.

In general, drivers seem to agree with me: overall, drivers like Lyft more.

Lyft has always been more liked by drivers and in one of our recent rideshare surveys, 75.8% of them reported that they were satisfied with their Lyft driving experience compared to just 49.4% on Uber.

On the other hand, even though many people prefer driving for Lyft over Uber, Uber has always been more reliable when it comes to getting rides and making money, and that’s really what matters most to drivers.

Are Uber and Lyft Different In Any Significant Way?

I assert that Uber and Lyft are virtually identical.  Anytime one company makes a change, the other company generally follows suit.  We saw this when Uber, and then Lyft, instituted driver pay cuts.  Then again, we saw this when first Uber, and then Lyft, changed how Surge (Uber) and Prime Time (Lyft) were calculated to pay less to drivers.

Both companies offer instant pay, a driver rewards program, almost identical apps, local hubs, referral bonuses and driving bonuses. In addition, both companies went public this year and offered some drivers stock options.

I mean, they even made cuts on the same day with Uber recently laying off 400 people in their marketing department and Lyft getting rid of their COO (who was paid $33 million last year so it’s sort of like a 400 person marketing department right?).

Stock Prices on July 23, 2019

There are a few differences between Uber and Lyft, but none of them have anything to do with being a driver. Uber is bigger. If you are in a market in which Uber dominates, then you will drive for Uber and who cares what Lyft does?

Uber also has a history of a dark and dysfunctional corporate culture. Uber has made many changes in an effort to rectify their situation.  However, I don’t see how these differences are pertinent to the lives of day-to-day drivers.

What Do The Driver Comments Indicate?

The only difference between Uber and Lyft lives in our heads.  We have all had various experiences with Uber and Lyft.  You may have had a bad experience with one of them (such as my deactivation by Uber) which then clouds your impression.  Or, you may have had one very good experience, such as a helpful support person who handled your issue with speed and alacrity.  This will also impact your perception of one company over the other.

As far as I can tell, the only substantive difference between the two companies is how you feel about them based on your own tangible experiences.

Related articles:

What Does The Future Hold?

The trend is for both companies to continue to mirror each other.  As one company figures out a way to pay drivers less money, the other company will surely do the same.  My concern is that the two companies will merge into one.  At that time, drivers will be out of luck.

Right now, Uber and Lyft compete.  If one company takes an action that repels drivers, those drivers will flock over to the other company, and vice versa.  For example, if Uber cut driver’s pay again, many drivers would quit on Uber and drive more for Lyft. This would degrade Uber’s service and then passengers would also switch over to Lyft. Therefore, neither Uber nor Lyft can do anything too dramatic or harmful to the drivers.

Instead, we get a “death by a thousand cuts” experiences.  We lose a little bit here and a little bit there.  The future holds more of the same.

How to Beat Uber and Lyft

Drive for the company that can give you the most business, who pays you the best, who offers you the best bonus, and who has the best tipping passengers.  In San Francisco, the company that delivers for me is Lyft.  However, in other markets, you may not even have Lyft as an option, or Lyft may not be well established.

In any case, it makes sense to hedge your bets and sign up with both Uber and Lyft. That way, if something goes wrong (like you’re locked out of your account or your market changes), you have a back up.

The bottom line is you want to drive for the company that provides the best experience for you. Your experience is based not only on how much money you can earn, but also the intangibles such as customer service and passengers.  Often, it just comes down to a feeling.

I feel better driving for Lyft so I drive for Lyft.  I also have a back up plan (check out our sign up bonus page for a full list of back up options). Be safe out there.

Readers, do you think there are any key differences between Uber and Lyft in 2019 and beyond?

-Jay @ RSG