Lyft vs Uber

Why I Turned in My UberX iPhone and Now Drive for Lyft

By September 18, 2014December 22nd, 20142 Comments


10 min read

    10 min read

    Editor’s Note: Today, I’m happy to introduce Scott Van Maldegiam as our newest contributor.  Since I only drive part time, I wanted to bring in someone with a fresh perspective who knows what it’s like to log 40-50 hours a week doing rideshare.  Scott is an ultra experienced driver from Chicago with a knack for analytics and a great attention to detail.  

    You might already know Scott’s name from some of the great comments he’s left over the past couple months but Scott and I have been e-mailing back and forth behind the scenes for a while now.  I’m going to be featuring articles from Scott on a regular basis going forward so once you’re done reading, please leave a comment and let us know what you think about Scott’s first article for The Rideshare Guy!


    Hi all. Harry has given me the opportunity to be a regular contributor to the blog and add another perspective on ride sharing from a driver in another market… CHICAGO! So, my opinions and information will be skewed by what is happening in the Chicago market, but I hope my thought process will help others make evaluations about what is happening in their own markets. With that said, my first topic is a comparison between Lyft and UberX.


    Since this is a long article, I wanted to start with the conclusion for those that don’t have time for all the detail right now.  In the end, I chose to drive for Lyft instead of driving for UberX. Was this a short sighted decision? Maybe, but for me, the deciding factors in Lyft’s favor are allowing tips and having a scaled commission. Working against UberX in a BIG way is the device charge with no option to use an UberX app on an Android device. UberX does say they are working on an Android app, so I may go back to driving for UberX once it is available in addition to driving for Lyft.

    For now though, I will be driving primarily for Lyft. Everyone loves an underdog. We shall see how well Lyft competes in this David and Goliath competition.

    FYI, I also drive for Sidecar, but I have only done 4 rides in the past 3 weeks where 2 of those rides were pre-arranged rides to the airport. I like that Sidecar allows you to keep 100% of the ride fare for riders you recruit. I will go more into Sidecar in a future article.

    Now for the detail.


    The base fares in Chicago are the lowest in the country at 90 cents a mile, 20/22 cents a minute and 1.70/1.71 base fare. Driving without Prime Time or Surges is at a point where a driver has to question whether it is worth it or not. There isn’t much difference in fares although Lyft does have slightly higher fares with 2 cents more a minute and 1 cent more in the base fare, although I haven’t seen Lyft add a 30 cent tax per ride like UberX has. FYI, the city passed an ordinance that regulates Ride Sharing including figuring out a way to generate revenue for the city off of Ride Sharing.

    Related Article: Do You Make More Driving For Lyft or Uber In Your City?

    In the end, there is very little difference between base fares so this is basically a toss up.


    Lyft, being that they have fewer drivers and riders, have decided to focus their efforts in an area where most of the demand is. It is still a large area, but UberX (and SideCar, for that matter) has a much larger coverage area. It covers areas like Naperville and Ravinia (concerts). While UberX hasn’t really figured out how best to tap into this demand (focus on areas and events where parking is at a premium and Airport rides… DUH), they have done a good job of letting everyone know about UberX so they have become the default choice in the suburbs.

    Advantage: UberX


    This one is easy. UberX discourages tips. They don’t just say they aren’t necessary. They want their drivers to remind riders that tips aren’t necessary when offered a tip. In my opinion, UberX is asking their drivers to be rude. A tip is a thank you for a job well done. Anyone offered a tip should give a smile and say “Thank you, I really appreciate this.” They should not say “With UberX, tips aren’t necessary.” With Lyft, tips are allowed in the app. Not all riders know how to use this, so you don’t always get them, but I have been getting an average of about 8% in tips. This average includes the 2 out of 3 riders that don’t include a tip. I also find that you get bigger tips on Airport runs where tipping is expected.

    Advantage: Lyft


    This one is a bit more subjective since I can’t constantly monitor Surge/PT levels for both services. Also, this is one area where your mileage may vary depending on your market. In Chicago, Lyft has more PT areas than UberX surge zones. Lfyt PT areas just seem to be rectangles with borders that aren’t relevant to neighborhoods or anything else. UberX, on the other hand, has well though out Surge zones. I expect that UberX will continue to divide zones, but Lyft could certainly use some improvement here.

    With regards to PT/Surge levels, it seems that PT goes into effect before UberX starts their Surge pricing. So, as a driver, you will see 25% PT before UberX goes to 1.25 Surge. What I have seen is that when things get really busy, UberX Surges sore. This past weekend, the highest PT I saw was 150% (2.5x) and that was rare, while UberX was over 4 at times. It is very common to see UberX surge pricing higher than Lyft’s PT.

    Related Article: What Do You Think About Lyft’s New Heat Maps?

    UberX Surges tend to change more gradually than Lyft’s PT. In areas where Lyft has more demand, their surges are fairly gradual, but in areas where demand suddenly surges a bit, 150% PT will pop up, but go away pretty quickly. The airports are an area where this happens regularly. (Yes, airport pickups are not allowed by the city, but Lyft and Sidecar still allow riders to request rides from the airport).

    The last point I will make regarding Surge/PT pricing is that UberX’s Surge pricing will go higher than Lyft’s PT. This can be very important for especially busy times like New Year’s Eve.

    Advantage: UberX


    This is another subjective category, but an important one. For me, Lyft has one major advantage: It automatically starts the ride 1 minute after you arrive. (does it also autostart after you start to move?). I tend to start interacting right away with the rider and find that, every once in a while, I forget to start the ride with UberX. Also, with UberX, if you have to wait for a rider, you are not supposed to start the ride until the rider is in your car or after you get permission from the rider to start the ride.  This is a big plus in Lyft’s column. Also, Lyft will link to Google Maps or Waze for navigation if you choose to do that instead of using the navigation in the Lyft app.

    In my opinion, everything else is in the UberX column. Since driver’s are running a business, it is good to be able to check how you are doing during breaks. When I drove for UberX, I would always check to see how I was doing as I would set goals when I started driving. It is motivating to see you make progress and achieve that goal. Also, UberX tells you, when you accept a ride, if the ride has Surge pricing. Lyft does not do this. If there is PT, Lyft sends you a text immediately after the ride with the PT level. Definitely, not as good for the driver. Lastly, in the UberX app, the map is larger than in the Lyft app. This is nitpicking a bit, but it is appreciated.

    Advantage: UberX


    UberX now has a very simple formula. They take 20%, although I just saw a post where drivers who come online after 9/2/14 in San Francisco, are now subject to a 25% UberX commission. Lyft, on the other hand, also has a 20% commission, but it rewards drivers who drive more for the service. At 15 hours, the net commission is 15%. At 30 hours, 40 hours and 50 hours each reduce the net commission by 5% where 50 hours is at 0% commission. In order to receive these rates, you must accept 90% of rides. Also, be careful because it only counts rides completed as accepted rides. So, if you accept a ride and the rider cancels, it doesn’t count as an accepted ride request in the calculation.

    Advantage: Lyft

    Rider Quality

    This is something that drivers talk about. In my opinion, Lyft riders are more enjoyable and less likely to be difficult. I relate this to one thing: expectation. Riders EXPECT to talk to their driver and they expect a good experience.

    Advantage: Lyft


    Driver Quality: Lyft requires mentor rides so they prevent the approval of bad drivers before they ever hit the road with Lyft. UberX does not. I heard from riders all the time of the few bad experiences they had using UberX while with Lyft, every rider has said they haven’t had a bad Lyft experience. Customer Satisfaction is much higher with Lyft and so rider preference is definitely Lyft.

    Support: I haven’t needed Lyft support, but I appreciate that I could contact my mentor if I needed to. I have received quick response from UberX when I needed something.

    Focus: Lyft is focused on the service it provides. Uber, on the other hand, has chosen to diversify. While I appreciate their creativity and innovation, it does tend to lead to scatter-brain implementation. I use the Ice Cream delivery day. Let’s just say, this had less than spectacular results. Customers had no idea how it worked so announcing it on the morning of the special had customers just confused.

    I digress here a bit, but while the training provided for the ice cream delivery to the drivers was OK, the training room and the logistics was a complete fail. Seriously, you order pizza and don’t have plates or napkins? Also, try and look professional by organizing the chairs in the room a bit instead of having it look like a bomb went off. Honestly, I feel like the Chicago office could use an office mom. They are smart people but, as they are tech people, they don’t always see things that are common sense.

    Benefits: Uber has a few discounts it has provided, but Lyft has a much broader offering with AnyPerks.

    Device charge: If you are an android user, you don’t have any other choice but to use the iPhone Uber provides at a cost of $10 a week or $520 a year. To me, as a long time UberX driver with a great driver rating, it was a complete slap in the face. I have even travelled to Springfield to help UberX lobby. Yes, they did pay me to do this, but I did it because I believed in the company. I am not feeling the love any more.

    Cancellations:  Neither service is great about cancellations.  The difference is that I would get credit for the occasional cancellation while I have never been paid for a cancellation on Lyft.  There are at least 2 times where I should have received a cancellation fare, but did not.  This is the one area where I feel UberX is a little more honest than Lyft.

    New Lyft Drivers Get Up To $250!

    LyftSign up for Lyft now and you’ll get up to $250 after you do 20 rides. Sign up here using my referral code.  If you are an UberX driver in Chicago, you could be eligible to receive $500 when you sign up with Lyft and complete 20 rides.  Don’t delay as promotions change frequently.

    What do you guys think of the Uber vs Lyft situation?  Who are you driving for now and is there anything that would make you switch allegiances?

    -Scott @ The Rideshare Guy

    Scott Van Maldegiam

    Scott Van Maldegiam

    I'm Scott, a full time health benefits consultant and rideshare driver. I spent 11 years working for Motorola and Tellabs using my EE degree and MBA before transitioning into the mortgage industry where I spent 6 years. I then spent 5 years in the cycling industry before transitioning into health insurance.