Driving ExperienceLyft vs Uber

Should I Drive For Uber or Lyft?

By August 18, 2014July 27th, 2020No Comments


    Last week we published a spreadsheet that gave every rideshare driver in the country insight into whether they are making more money driving for Lyft or Uber.  I figured that article would be pretty popular since people tend to really care how much money they’re making but I was amazed at the response.  That article has been viewed almost 500 times in the past 7 days and it’s clear that there is a lot of worry, angst and outrage over the latest fare cuts from Uber and commission increases from Lyft.

    Related Article: Do Drivers Make More Money With Lyft or Uber?

    uber eats

    The day after I released that spreadsheet, Uber went and made 20% cuts in most cities.  Thanks a lot guys!  So while I work on updating the numbers, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the whole picture when driving for Uber or Lyft.  The pay is once again pretty comparable so it’s now more important than ever to consider all of the little things.

    Number of Requests

    If you’re only getting a few requests per hour, these fare cuts are really going to hurt you.  But if you’re constantly getting requests and transporting passengers you may be able to make up for the fare cuts with increased volume.  Lyft and Uber like to tell us that all this price slashing increases ridership but I don’t buy it.

    I think there is still a market for new riders but lower prices aren’t going to get them to try out rideshare.  Uber and Lyft’s prices have been cheaper than a taxi since the beginning of this whole saga and that is their main competitor, not each other.  If people haven’t tried rideshare yet, it’s not because of the cost.  It’s probably because they don’t know about it or how well it works.

    On a personal level, I know that driving in LA and OC, I tend to get way more Uber rides than Lyft when I’m doing both at the same time.  I also hear “Let’s take an Uber” a lot more often than “Let’s take a Lyft”.  So it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Uber is the big brother in the TNC family.

    Related Article: My First Week Driving For Lyft and Uber

    For me going forward, I’m going to give the edge in this category to Uber since I’d rather get a request and get paid a little bit less than not get a request at all.

    Are Tips Enough?

    Tips are a subject that always elicit a heated debate in rideshare circles.  Uber’s stance is that rides are all inclusive so there is no need to tip the driver, hence the non-existent option to tip on the app.  I’ve obviously gotten cash tips from Uber passengers before but it just goes against the whole point of rideshare in the first place: a convenient, cashless way to hail a ride.  Lyft takes a different approach along the lines of: tips aren’t necessary, but they are appreciated.  I give Lyft the edge in this category because I think tips are what separate the good drivers from the bad.

    We all strive for a high rating but at the end of the day that doesn’t make us any more money.  The best way to show a driver that he is doing an extraordinary job is to give them a tip.  When you pay everyone the same amount of money, things usually don’t go too well.  Why would anyone want to be a doctor if they could make the same amount of money being a janitor?  Similarly, why would a rideshare driver go above and beyond the call of duty if they make the same amount just doing the bare minimum?

    Tips are a good thing for passengers and drivers because it keeps us motivated to do a great job.  Ask any economist, the best way to motivate or incentivize a group of people is with money.

    Quality of Passengers

    I haven’t experienced much difference between the quality of passengers but the general consensus out there is that Lyft passengers are easier to deal with on the whole than Uber passengers.  Obviously this is a huge generalization but from what I’ve seen, there are way more drivers complaining about Uber passengers than Lyft passengers (we rideshare drivers like to complain a lot if you couldn’t tell).

    I also like driving at nights so for me the biggest problems I run into are with passengers dropping their pin in the wrong place and taking too long to come out to the car (haven’t had any vomiters yet).  I try to negate the first issue by sending a standard text message to every passenger and if I have to drive more than a few minutes to pick them up I always confirm their address.

    Some drivers like to complain that Uber passengers take forever to come out to the car but I think that is more a function of the passengers being drunk and in a group than anything.  It’s always hard to round up more than 2 people when you want to leave, especially if they’ve been drinking.

    I’ve actually been pretty happy with the quality of passengers I get on both platforms and it’s one of the reasons why I like driving so much.  The people I meet are cool, down to earth and love to chat.  They’re pretty much the opposite of people at my engineering day job so maybe that’s why I like them so much.

    Ultimately, since Uber started out as a black car service, I think there were some snooty and up tight passengers at the start.  But now a days, I think those guys are all gone and pretty much everyone knows that UberX and Lyft basically offer identical services.  Lyft is a little goofier with the pink mustache and those stupid fist bumps but I don’t have a problem with the passengers on either platform.  I like them both.

    Trip Details

    This last point wasn’t even something I considered until I reviewed the data that Ryder at Sherpa sent over to me last week.  One of the things that stood out was the fact that the average Uber ride in SF is 4.6 miles while the average Lyft ride is only 3.5 miles.  That is a huge difference since that extra mile will be tacked onto all of your rides.  Although you will lose some time driving that mile, it’s a lot less than if you had to wait around for a passenger, go pick them up, etc.

    Sign Up for Sherpa Here (Referral Link)

    I actually recommended to Sherpa that they consider incorporating this data into their City Metrics option so that drivers can see which service is giving them longer rides.  There’s really no way to gauge information like this on your own and that’s one of the reasons why I think Sherpa is so cool (plus it’s free).

    Readers, so what do you think about all the fringe benefits of driving for Lyft or Uber?  Obviously money is a huge part but are the intangibles with one service over the other enough to win you over?

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    Harry Campbell

    Harry Campbell

    I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.