Even though Uber is the big brother in the rideshare game, competition is a good thing for passengers and drivers. Today, RSG contributor, Scott Van Maldegiam takes a look at some of the recent changes Lyft has made to enhance the driver’s experience. I think 2015 is going to bring a rash of positive changes as TNC’s duke it out for driver loyalty. We’re already starting to see some of those and so far things are looking good!
I have been thinking about writing this article for some time now. For those of you that drive for Uber and Lyft, you probably understand why. Both offer very similar services yet there are some major differences between the two.
Passenger Wait Times
I have been noticing for some time that Lyft passengers are generally ready to go while UberX passengers always make you wait a bit longer. I have a couple of theories why this might be the case.
–Theory #1: Since Lyft starts the ride 1 minute after you click that you have arrived, I figured riders might be motivated to get outside ASAP so they don’t have to pay for those extra minutes. In talking with customers though, most customers had no idea that this was the case, but didn’t really care since they were on time anyway. So, with that small sample of people, it didn’t seem that this was the root cause. Which got me thinking about another possible reason…
– Theory #2: Think about their slogans. Lyft is “your friend with a car” while UberX is “your private driver”. I have certainly heard from people who think UberX is better because of the slogan, but I also think that passengers are less considerate because of the slogan. Lyft, on the other hand, is the opposite. My thought here is: Would it bother you more to keep your friend waiting or a limo driver? In my younger days and before I was a driver, I wouldn’t hesitate to keep my limo driver waiting especially if he showed up early. If a friend was giving me a ride to the airport, I definitely didn’t want to keep them waiting.
I don’t know if it is just my luck, but I really think the product positioning has something to do with the passenger wait time differences.
Obviously, fares vary across the country. In Chicago, the fares are very similar and now that Lyft is no longer rounding, they are even closer The major differences though are:
– Surge/PT pricing: When things are busy, UberX raises their rates to a higher level than Lyft does consistently when it is busy. Lyft has already put in place a 50% PT guarantee for many markets across the country for New Year’s Eve. 50%? So what. I expect Uber to be over 3x for the time that Lyft will have that guarantee in place.
– Tips: Yes, this has been talked about ad nauseam. With that said, the changes Lyft has made with regards to the tipping screen have definitely increased the number of tips I get when driving for Lyft. Just last night (late Sunday evening before Christmas), I drove for a few hours and had rides across all 3 platforms. Of the 4 Lyft rides I had, 3 gave out tips. The overall tip amount almost matched the Lyft fee of 20%. If that starts to be a trend, that will be a real advantage for people driving for Lyft. I won’t expect that much in tips on NYE since surge pricing will be so high but you have to take the good with the bad.
Related Article: Should Uber Passengers Tip Their Driver?
What About Sidecar?
The way Sidecar pays drivers is a bit odd. You can request a payment whenever you want but they take out a 50 cent fee every time you want a payment. I don’t have a big problem with that specifically, but what I do find troublesome is that your fares and promotions are in 2 separate areas and you can’t request one deposit so you are only charged one fee.
For example, you get a shared ride request but the ride isn’t shared. You get paid for the ride on a percentage of how much the rider spent on the fare and Sidecar makes up the difference for the Shared Rides discount. The problem is that the fare is in one area and the Shared Rides makeup is in another area. So, when you go to request a deposit, you have to request one for your fares with a charge of 50 cents and another one for the promotions for another 50 cents. This appears to be a way for Sidecar to get just a bit more from the fare.
(RSG: I think the 50 cent fee is total BS, nobody charges a fee for requesting payment and it should be free!)
Sidecar also hasn’t been very transparent about their fare structure. Just try and find it. A few of us did manage to get them to disclose how the fares are calculated in Chicago. It is 75 cents per mile and 18 cents per minutes but the base/flag rate is $2.55 which is much higher than Lyft and UberX. For short rides, Sidecar is more expensive unless you get a Shared Ride request. Otherwise, long rides are much less expensive on Sidecar.
And this just in… Lyft also now allows shared/split payments. This was just announced for the Chicago market among others.
Lyft’s New Running Total Feature
One of the things I always liked about UberX was that I could determine how much my total fares were so far for the night. I would have to add it up manually but that wasn’t a big deal. Well, Lyft one up’d UberX by including a running total of your rides for that night. It shows up after each ride on the rating screen. This is an awesome new feature for Lyft drivers and one I really appreciate.
Wait, You’re Where?
Have you ever driven to a pickup point only to find the passenger didn’t enter the correct location? This still happens to me on UberX, but happens much less on Lyft. Lyft incorporated a new feature where if you try and request a ride from a location that is different from your phone’s GPS location, then it asks “are you sure?” and explains the GPS location is far from your requested location. This is a great feature since some passengers will try and avoid Prime Time this way too.
Related Article: Top 10 Ways That Uber and Lyft Passengers Are Gaming The System
Uber’s Only Advantage
Surge/PT is the one area where I feel like UberX has a real advantage. UberX’s surge areas are much larger than the micro areas that Lyft’s PT areas have. This leads to more riders moving to a close by area for their requests with Lyft than with UberX although I don’t see many passengers doing this historically. Specifically for Chicago, I have seen UberX passengers request a location west of the United Center to get out of the surge area and then request a pickup point closer to the United Center.
Hey Babe, Are You Going My Way?
This has been my favorite feature of Sidecar so far. The ability to set your destination for dropoffs at the beginning and end of the night is a great feature. Unfortunately, the demand for Sidecar in Chicago isn’t that great yet (although is improving).
Well… now Lyft is adding a similar feature and, I feel, a better feature. It has not been introduced yet (although it is currently being tested in SF and LA), but the idea is that you will set a destination and Lyft will try to match up rides along your path. For suburban drivers like me, it would be nice to use this feature to get rides in and out of the city at the beginning and end of drive shifts.
Drivers, how do you feel about all of the recent changes Lyft has been making to improve driver experience? Do you think Lyft or Uber is doing a better job of prioritizing driver’s needs?
Drive for Sidecar And Get $100
-Scott @ The Rideshare Guy
Scott Van Maldegiam
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