Lyft Vs. Uber Types Of Service: Who Really Reigns Supreme?

Kara Richards —  September 30, 2018

It wasn’t so long ago that having a car was an absolute necessity, and not having one left you at the mercy of unreliable cab drivers who never seemed to be around when you needed them. It wasn’t so long ago that you had to pay an arm and a leg to get a cab or a town car to pick you up from the airport. It wasn’t so long ago that you worried about heading to a bar without a designated driver.

But car service companies like Lyft and Uber have changed all of that. They’ve made it easy and relatively inexpensive to get where you’re going regardless of whether or not you have your own car.

In A Battle Of Lyft VS Uber, Who Wins?


They’ve revolutionized the world for city dwellers who often don’t own a car, but still need one on an occasional basis. They’ve turned your smartphone into your own private chauffeur, and they have given their customers comfort, convenience, and control over their own transportation.

If you use one of these services, then you probably have a favorite. You’ve got their app on your phone, and you might even see some of the same drivers from time to time. There is a strict divide between Lyft and Uber users, and not a lot of carry-over between them. There are those who are team Lyft, and those who are team Uber, and there’s probably not a lot that will sway anyone’s decision.

But maybe you’re still on the fence. Maybe you haven’t actually picked a team yet. Maybe you’ve used Uber once to get to a party, but that’s about all you know. You’re not likely to get impartial responses from regular users, but here is an objective breakdown of each company’s service. Using these comparisons you can decide for yourself once and for all who reigns supreme when it comes to Lyft vs Uber.

Comparing Service Areas

people discussing

One of the first key factors you need to examine when comparing Lyft vs Uber is their coverage areas and operating hours. Both companies operate at all hours of the day or night, but because they are dependent on when drivers choose to be available, you’ll likely run into longer wait times in the wee hours of the morning. This is an equal inconvenience across both providers. For you as an individual, your preference for one company over the other may come down to whether or not they are available in your town or city. Here is how they stack up on coverage.
Uber is by far the bigger company, and as a result, its service area is bigger. It provides rides in hundreds of US towns and cities and hundreds of cities worldwide. This larger service area means you are less likely to be stranded without a ride.

Of course Lyft is available in a large area as well. Although they do not operate internationally, there are Lyft drivers working in 46 US states. You can easily search their site here to see if your city falls within their range of service.

Reserving A Car

using a mobile phone

Both ride sharing services are on-demand, and though wait times are usually only a few minutes based on the location of drivers, there are times when you don’t want to risk being late. If you’re looking for a ride to pick you up from a bar after a night out, punctuality isn’t super important, but if you need to get to the airport, you don’t really want to risk a car not being available. That’s why both companies allow you to reserve cars in advance. Uber will allow you to reserve a car up to 30 days in advance. They point out that it’s perfect for rides to the airport, important work functions, or even a wedding reception. If you know the date and time that you’ll need an Uber, why not book your car in advance, and worry less?
All you have to do is open the app, click the car and clock icon, and fill in your ride details. You’ll get email notifications about your scheduled trip, and you can make changes or cancel easily. Lyft offers scheduled rides for their standard Lyft service up to 7 days in advance. You schedule your ride the same way, by opening the app and clicking the clock icon. Type in your details, and confirm your ride.

Lyft uses a calculation called Prime Time to determine the rate at which your ride will be charged based on what the predicted rate is for your scheduled time of travel. You can cancel anytime up until you have been paired with a driver.

Types Of Service Available

One obvious reason that people choose ride shares over cabs, other than the handy app, is the ability to choose the kind of car you get picked up in. A cab, regardless of the company, is just a cab. Its interior is sparse, the radio is either broken or blaring, and there never seems to be enough leg room.

A standard Uber service is called UberX. It provides you with a basic vehicle that fits up to 4 passengers. There are minimum vehicle requirements for UberX that vary slightly by city, but, generally, limit vehicles to 4 door sedans or mini vans that have no cosmetic damage, have passed a car inspection, and have a working air conditioner. Generally, models must be a 2002 or newer for this basic service.

Lyft vs Uber

If you need an SUV that seats up to 6 people, for say a trip to the airport, then you can select UberXL. If you need an SUV that seats up to 6, but maybe you’re doing something more exciting, like celebrating a bachelor party, then you can select UberSUV and get picked up in a luxury SUV instead.

UberPool lets you get the maximum out of a ride sharing program. It’s the equivalent of splitting a cab ride with someone except that Uber works out all the logistics for you, and you don’t even have to know the other passenger or passengers.

UberBLACK is the ultra way to travel. You get a professional driver, a black town car, and seating for up to 4 people. If you need to make an impression, or make an entrance, this is the way to go.

Uber also provides services for those who need wheelchair or scooter assistance through UberWAV, and UberSELECT can help you make the most of a very special occasion with the best drivers, and the best luxury cars. Finally, you can even use the UberTAXI service to find an available cab through the Uber app.

Lyft has a standard, basic service called Lyft Original, and it provides a vehicle for up to 4 passengers. Lyft has minimum vehicle requirements for their basic-level service as well. These requirements vary by state and city, but generally, cars have to be a 2005 model or newer, with no body damage, and working air conditioning.

LyftPlus provides standard cars for up to 6 passengers and Lyft Premier offers 4 passenger luxury cars. LyftLux and LyftLux SUV provide a luxury black car service for 4 and 6 passengers respectively.

Lyft vs Uber

Lastly, LyftLine allows you to share your Lyft with other passengers going in the same direction as you, if not necessarily the same place.

From the breakdown of their various service levels, it’s pretty easy to see that they are comparable to one another. Each company allows you to select vehicles based on the number of passengers you have as well as the level of style you desire.

What Else Are These Companies Doing?

So far Lyft and Uber are split pretty evenly. They offer similar levels of service, and with the exception of international service, pretty comparable service areas. Each company does a driving and background check on its drivers, and each company has a convenient app that makes scheduling, or requesting a ride a synch.

So how can you tell who is better? Here is a look at how each company is moving beyond simple ride sharing and thinking bigger.

Uber has some major plans. With Uber Eats they have made a foray into convenient food delivery, and it’s just a matter of time before they expand to other types of delivery options as well.

They also offer Uber for Business with a convenient dashboard to manage rides for employees, clients, and work events. Businesses can schedule rides and request rides without the hassle of filing out expense report forms.

Uber is also poised to get into bike sharing, as well as integrating its app into city transit systems. Before too long you may be able to pay for your subway ride within your Uber app on your smartphone. You may also have an easier way to rent out your car or someone else’s after Uber integrates the service GetAround into is app.

Lyft is likewise working with businesses through a similarly convenient dashboard system. Companies can manage how their employees and clients get to the airport, how they commute into work, and how they attend events.

Lyft also has similar services that are aimed at both patients and students. In both cases, there are services to make sure that your riders can get to where they need to go when you are not available.

If you are taking care of an elderly parent or grandparent, Lyft for Patients can help relieve some of the stress of your daily life by taking them to and from appointments for less than what other shuttle services would charge.

Or if you have kids in school that cannot take public transportation, you have a simple solution with Lyft for Students on days when an early work meeting, or a late work dinner make playing chauffeur impossible.

Their Public Image
No comparison of Lyft vs Uber would be complete without a discussion of their public images. This speaks to not simply the quality of their services, but the overall quality of their companies. While Lyft has remained fairly free from controversy, Uber has struggled recently with its public image due to a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company, and allegations of a cutthroat work environment. Uber drivers also often complain of low wages. Uber does not allow
customers to tip drivers, unlike Lyft, and this has been linked to lower job satisfaction among drivers.

Uber was also the subject of a Twitter storm under the hashtag #DeleteUber in 2017 when it appeared to be using a protest against President Trump’s Travel Ban as a way to increase profits in New York. Uber is also reportedly being investigated for trying to track Lyft drivers.

Declaring a Winner
As far as overall customer experience, there may be little difference between Lyft and Uber. They operate the same way through a convenient app, and they allow their customers to request, or schedule rides whenever they need it.

Each service provides passengers with a choice of the type of car they need, as well as varying levels of luxury. They each charge customers based on the demand of rides at the time, as well as by city and state.

Lyft comes off looking better in the press than Uber, but it has yet to significantly hurt or help either company. Plus, Uber’s plans for the future seem to get bigger every day. And it’s really the size of Uber and its reach that gives them the top spot. More drivers in more places mean less standing around and waiting. With service in more places, Uber has to take the ride sharing cake.

Kara Richards