- Over the past year, I’ve driven for both ridesharing apps Lyft and Uber.
- Though the two apps are very similar, they both have their major strengths and weaknesses from a driver’s standpoint.
- To me, it quickly became clear that Uber is the better company to drive for.
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The idea sounded wild. Me? Driving around strangers in my car? Are you serious? What if the people are weird or super drunk? Is it even safe? No way. There will be too much wear and tear. I hate driving in traffic. I’ll end up too far from home. The long hours will get to me.
And, most importantly, driving around strangers in my car?
Well, my wedding is two months away. I’m a computer tech for an elementary school, and my fiancée is a kindergarten teacher. We work our tails off at our jobs but, unfortunately, that is still not enough to save up properly for a wedding. Something had to happen.
So that’s how I found myself months ago, at 26 years old, signing up for both Uber and Lyft, muttering to myself, "Driving around strangers in my car?"
My name is Clarke, and I’m a part-time Uber and Lyft driver.
That sign-up process was months ago, and I have since given hundreds of rides around the streets of South Florida, picking up passengers and transporting them to their destinations safely, like some type of modern-day Clark Kent rideshare superhero.
After all these months and hundreds of rides, I’ve finally formed my opinion on the No. 1 question that passengers love to ask me: "Which company do you like better, Uber or Lyft?"
Most people think there’s not much difference between the two. You pick people up, you drive them, and then you drop them off. What more to it could there be? Surprisingly, a lot. Both platforms have their pros, and both platforms have their cons, but one platform is clearly superior to the other.
For me, the better platform is Uber. Read on to find out why.
Signing up with Lyft was easier than Uber, which gave me concerns about other drivers
Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images
When it came time to physically sign up for each platform, Lyft was easier. Much easier — to the point of being almost too easy.
Both were about the same process: You enter your information, wait for the subsequent background check to clear, upload all the paperwork they ask for, and then you wait.
Lyft approved my account for driving within a few days, almost a full week before Uber did. It almost made me worry if something was wrong with my Uber account or if I had messed something up. I actually reached out to Uber Support before my final approval just to make sure everything was okay, and I was reassured that their onboarding process is extremely thorough, and they were simply going through their standard procedures.
Once approved, Lyft and Uber both asked me to upload a picture of my vehicle registration. Uber took almost a day to process. Lyft accepted my paperwork within minutes. This led me to believe that with Lyft, this process is automated via computer and not by a person, which could lead to the possibility of other drivers submitting fraudulent paperwork.
Neither company physically inspected my vehicle, and neither company asked me to take photos of my vehicle. This shocked me.
Despite Lyft being quicker than Uber, I feel that Uber did a better job of vetting me before it approved my account. As an Uber passenger, I want to know that my driver is a safe person and that their vehicle is properly registered and insured. For safety and security reasons, I think taking longer is the better option.
Uber is more popular than Lyft, which means more money for Uber drivers
AP/Gene J. Puskar
As a driver, you learn quickly that you are only making money when you are on a ride. If there is not someone sitting in the backseat, you are not making money.
I start my shifts by putting both the Uber and Lyft apps into online mode. This means I am available to start accepting rides. I figure by running both apps at once, I’ll "double" my chances of getting a ride. In my area, both platforms pay about the same base rate within a few cents, so whichever platform sends me a request first, I’ll accept. Once I accept the ride, I’ll turn the other app off.
On average, I drive about three or four Uber rides for every Lyft ride. This isn’t me being picky, it’s just the reality. More people seem to prefer Uber over Lyft. I see other drivers on the roads with only a Lyft decal on their windshield, and it makes me wonder how they are making any money at all by limiting themselves to only one platform. After talking to hundreds of drivers, I’ve learned that most either have both Uber and Lyft, or only Uber.
Uber also likes to give me back-to-back rides, and will give me more information on the next potential passenger before I accept it. The downtime between rides is what kills your dollars-per-hour ratio, so I absolutely love when Uber strings me on back-to-back rides. Sign me up.
For example, let’s say I’m dropping someone off at a hotel. When I’m about three minutes away, the app may pop up and say, "Samantha, 4.96 rating, UberX, 22-minute trip northwest," and I just have to tap it to accept. The app then tells the next passenger that I am dropping off a current rider and I will be there shortly after. I have a guaranteed ride after this current one that I am now mentally preparing for. I am now going to make more money due to having zero downtime between rides. The passenger knows they have a driver coming. Everyone is happy.
Lyft rarely will give back-to-back rides, but when it does, it will just automatically add them to your queue, telling you absolutely no information about the passenger — no name, no rating, whether it’s a regular ride or a shared ride, no estimated duration or direction, and no way to reject this ride without clicking through quite a few options on the app (which is unsafe, and illegal while driving).
The biggest gripe here is that Lyft doesn’t tell the next passenger that you are currently on a ride and dropping someone off. The next passenger is often annoyed by the time you get to them because they didn’t know you were still on a ride dropping off another person. They were watching your car’s location on the app and you weren’t driving towards them, so now they either think you were wasting their time, or that you can’t follow a map correctly, neither of which is true.
Uber takes safety very seriously — but Lyft seems to treat it as an afterthought
My fiancée’s biggest concern with me driving, especially late at night, is safety. And I don’t blame her. I’m driving around the busy roads of South Florida letting strangers into my car. If I were in her shoes, I would be concerned too. While over 99% of my passengers are extremely nice and normal people, she and I still worry, as I think any person would.
To give her peace of mind, I can share my location with her through the Uber app with the "Follow My Ride" feature. Since I obviously can’t call or text while on a ride, there are often stretches of long periods of time where she won’t hear from me. With Uber’s "Follow My Ride" feature, she can check her phone any time she wants to and see exactly where I am. It’s super easy to do on my end — I click one button and it’s active. That’s it. The Uber passenger app also has this feature.
Lyft doesn’t have this feature. It’s absolutely baffling to me that it doesn’t have something similar, when safety is something that is extremely important for all parties.
Additionally, passengers like to know which driver they’re getting matched with. Passengers on both apps can see the driver’s name, their rating, their profile, and their profile picture. Profile picture requirements are strict: You’re required to upload a nice photo, with no sunglasses, no hat, not too close, not too far away, and with proper lighting. Drivers also like to know who they’re getting matched with. A simple name and a rating can go a long way to giving you peace of mind.
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On Lyft, passengers can upload a picture of themselves. Uber drivers can’t view their passengers’ profile pictures. At least on Lyft, for example, I now know that my next passenger, Samantha, has a 4.96 rating and also has blonde curly hair and glasses. This helps me so I can see who I’m looking for at a busy pickup spot.
However, this idea falls flat on its face, as there are clearly no requirements for profile pictures on Lyft, and they’re not nearly filtered with the same strictness as they are for drivers. If you based my passengers solely off of their pictures, to date I have given rides to the following: three cats, a horse, a red Ferrari, the Italian flag, SpongeBob SquarePants, and two beautiful golden retrievers. I would almost prefer no profile picture over seeing Spongebob smiling at me after I accept a ride on Lyft.
Like I said before, 99% of my passengers are nice, normal people. I have had two issues regarding safety, one on each platform. Without going into detail, let’s just say I absolutely did not feel safe in the scenarios. I cancelled the rides and reported them. Uber responded to my report immediately, giving me the impression that the company had my back the entire time, and said it would contact the authorities.
With the Lyft incident, it took the company hours to respond, and when it finally did, it was a simple, scripted email message that said, "You will not be matched with this rider again."
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