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What is the Difference Between a Taxi, Uber, and Lyft? 

uber on cell phoneFor many years, taxis had the rule of the road for passengers who wanted to get from A to B as quickly as possible. Depending on the distance of the journey, the fare would adjust, and we could get to our destinations with no concerns about parking. However, Uber and Lyft are both providing stiff competition for taxis these days and it’s offering an interesting debate for consumers.

Which is best? We’re going to break down this debate into various categories, so we really learn how the three options differ!

  1. Price

First and foremost, which will allow you to save money?


If we start with the familiar, taxis generally have a base fare which means that this is the minimum you will be charged. From here, an additional amount will be added per ‘enter a distance/time here’. For example, it might be a $3 base fare with 50 cents added with every minute that passes.

Over the years, certain regulations have been introduced to protect consumers. Therefore, those in bumper-to-bumper traffic won’t be paying hundreds of dollars for what would normally be a short trip.

Of course, the timing of your journey will also affect the pricing. Between 8am and 6pm, for example, you might pay more than normal.

Uber and Lyft

As well as considering the distance and duration of a journey, these two apps also charge based on supply and demand. If there’s a surge in demand, prices will increase; this has caused many users a problem since there doesn’t seem to be a ceiling on prices. The more people need a ride, the higher the prices will go.

Interestingly, the University of Cambridge in the UK performed a study that showed yellow taxis to be cheaper than Uber taxis in New York. This being said, Uber was cheaper when it came to longer journeys. Also, this doesn’t take into account the price when sharing a ride with others. With both Lyft and Uber, it’s possible to jump into a car with another user before then splitting the cost; this is significantly cheaper than getting a vehicle for your journey alone.

Another benefit of Uber and Lyft taxis is that users are shown pricing before even calling the vehicle to their address; you’ll know roughly what you’ll pay (subject to certain changes or issues).

  1. Safety

Is one safer than the other? Should you avoid the new apps in favor of traditional taxis?

Uber and Lyft

Sadly, there has been plenty of stories about passengers who have been in accidents or have been insulted or assaulted in some way by drivers from these apps. While there is a background check process with both, you also have to realize that the terms and conditions do their best to absolve the company of any blame.

Fortunately, both apps are taking steps to ensure the security of passengers. For example, 2016 saw the introduction of a pilot program designed to analyze the road behavior of drivers. If the passenger has a different story to the driver, the GPS, accelerometers, and other pieces of technology from smartphones will tell the true story.


There are still stories of poor experiences for passengers in taxis, but taxi drivers are under the employment of a proper taxi company. If they act inappropriately, they’re likely to lose their job which is a good enough deterrent. Also, passengers can seek compensation from cab companies much easier than Uber and Lyft.

  1. Speed

With the two main topics covered, we can move onto some other areas that won’t make or break your experience. If you’re in a rush and you have the option, we recommend going for Uber and Lyft. Since a price has almost been agreed in advance, Uber and Lyft drivers have no motivation to go a slower route.

Additionally, a UC Berkeley working paper discovered in 2014 that only 40% of taxi passengers are picked up within 10 minutes; this same figure was 90% for Uber and Lyft.

  1. Regulations

Since the introduction of Uber and Lyft, the debate between themselves and taxi companies has only grown. If we use New York as an example, salaries for taxi drivers have been reducing in recent years and this has led to new regulations for the apps. Suddenly, they’re only allowed a certain number of cars on the road.

In the time ahead, this battle is set to rage on which means that the way the three operate may change.

  1. Driver Attitude and Service

As well as getting from one point to another, most of us like a good service in a taxi, Uber, or Lyft. It doesn’t have to be a full conversation or complementary bottles of water, but a simple ‘how’s your day?’ doesn’t go amiss.

For those who have used all three, we think you’ll agree with this summary;

  • Taxi - This depends, every taxi driver has good days and bad days. Some will be eager to start conversations; others will be happy to offer a smile and sit in silence. However, there is something to be said for taxi drivers having the experience to know what the passenger wants from their journey.
  • Lyft - For many, a Lyft taxi takes the crown for customer service and this is because it’s ingrained into the foundation of the company. From the very beginning, Lyft was advertising itself as ‘your friend with a car’; they also encourage passengers to give tips (this inspires positive experiences!).
  • Uber - Initially, Uber launched as a luxury chauffeur service and it has tried to stick to these origins ever since. For most, Uber taxis are more of a ferrying service where conversation and customer service aren’t so important (except to get great ratings, of course!).


In 2017, the number of rides in apps like Lyft and Uber surpassed that of traditional taxis.  As a result, lawmakers have imposed restrictions on apps. What happens in the future is yet to be seen, but hopefully you now see the difference between the three!

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