WILMINGTON — Lyft, the main competitor of rival ride-share company Uber, has begun offering service in the extended Wilmington area (from Holden Beach in the south to Topsail Beach in the North, and Sandy Creek to the West). Lyft, which calls itself “your friend with a car,” contrasts itself to the more professional style of Uber.
According to Mary Caroline Pruitt, communications director for Lyft in North Carolina: “Many drivers and passengers have voiced that they prefer Lyft because the overall ride experience is more welcoming and enjoyable; in fact, studies have shown that 8 out of 10 drivers who drive for both Lyft and Uber prefer Lyft. We think people in Wilmington will also embrace Lyft for providing a safe, welcoming transportation ride around town …We never set out to provide a better taxi or black car service, but remain committed to that same vision and mission of creating a convenient and affordable ride-sharing alternative.”
Beneath their different philosophies, Lyft and Uber offer essentially similar services to customers – and similar compensation for drivers.
Both companies share similar cost structures, with charges for distance and time added to a base fee. Uber uses a $2.65 base fee and charges $0.75/mile and $0.12/minute. Lyft uses a near-identical $2.78 base fee and charges $0.74/mile and $0.11/minute. Both companies offer deluxe options, with newer-model and higher-end or higher-capacity vehicles.
Similar costs for riders mean a similar pay-rate for drivers. Uber drivers keep 80 percent of the billed rate; Lyft drivers who joined before 2016 also keep 80%, drivers who joined this year keep 75 percent.
One major difference between the two companies is their handling of tipping. Uber’s smartphone interface does not offer a clear way to add a tip to your fare at the time of booking or completing a ride; Lfyt does. Uber does allow tipping – in cash – but it also describes itself as a “cashless experience.” In other words, Uber markets itself as a service where passengers do not have to worry about cash, including tips. Lyft allows riders to tip their drivers during or after their trip. This may put Uber drivers in the position of asking for – or not receiving – tips.
Uber does offer some benefits for drivers that Lyft does not. Uber, which will sometimes cut their rates to generate rides, offers drivers some guarantees on earnings during rate-reduction and slow-business seasons. According to Uber’s Southeastern Communications Director:
In Wilmington, there was a 25 percent price cut in January with 24/7 guarantees in place for drivers for about one month. Further, peak time guarantees were in place for another four to eight weeks. Since those price cuts, rider demand did increase significantly resulting in more trips per hour for drivers (time earning money while on a ride)
Lyft is geared more towards part-time driving than Uber. According to Lyft, “80 percent of Lyft drivers drive 15 hours a week or less, and 95 percent of drivers have said Lyft’s flexibility is the most important thing to them.”
Regardless of the differences, both ride-share options can help those in the greater Wilmington area deal with traffic congestion. The American Public Transportation Association, in a March 2016 study, stated that ride share programs helped connect remote and poorly served neighborhoods to public transportation – like WAVE – as well as encouraging people to use public transportation because owning a car was not necessary. As the area continues to grow, ride-share programs will likely continue to be important.