We Tried It: Lyft vs. Uber Black vs. Good Old Taxicab

By
From the July 2014 edition

With the recent additions to Columbus’ transportation options, we wanted to find out which is the best bet. So Columbus Monthly staffers Anthony Dominic, Michelle Sullivan and Emily Thompson each took a different ride from German Village to Grandview at the same time on a Friday night in May. Here are the results from our experiment.

 

Lyft

Accessibility: The newest of Columbus’ transportation services, Lyft is a service for the people, by the people. With a clean background check and driving record and a reliable, four-door car, ’most anyone can become a driver. Download the app, register, request a ride and you’ll soon be on your way. Bonus: Your first 10 rides are free (up to $25 each), but you have only 15 days to use the credits.

Wait Time: Immediately after requesting our ride, the app alerted us our driver was on his way. He arrived in five minutes in a Kia.

Travel Time: Our driver got turned around and took a few minutes to get going up Fourth Street, but it didn’t set us too far back—we arrived in Grandview 20 minutes later.

Professionalism: When your driver’s on his or her way, a message will pop up on the app saying, “Think of your driver as a friend, and hop in the front seat!” It feels a bit strange at first, but our driver was quick to start a conversation and offer us mints, Life Savers and a bottle of water—definitely nice touches.

Price: $12 before tip. After rating your driver (they rate you, too), be sure to change the total amount to include your tip before submitting. It’s easy to miss, so if you do, just email Lyft from the address on your account and let them know how much you want to add to your charge.

Uber Black

Accessibility: Download the free app, plug in your basic info (including an email address and a credit card or PayPal number) and you’ll be looking at your current location via Google Maps. You can then view pickup time and fare estimates and, after requesting a car, your driver’s customer rating and his or her photo.

Wait Time: The estimated wait time was nine minutes, and our driver arrived in exactly nine minutes.

Travel Time: One of the first questions our driver asked was if we had a preferred route to our destination. We agreed on taking U.S. Route 70 to 315 to Grandview.The trip was 15 minutes.

Professionalism: Our driver opened our doors when picking us up and dropping us off. The car, a Lexus, looked like it had just been driven off the dealership lot. The leather seats were comfortable, and the ride was smooth. There were chilled water bottles in the rear center console, and our driver made lively conversation.

Price: $24 with automatic tip included. When you reach your destination, your driver rates you (so behave!), and then you receive a notification via the Uber app to rate your driver. Your receipt arrives minutes later in an email. (Pro tip: Make sure your designated bank account isn’t empty, because Uber withdraws your fare immediately.)

Taxicab

Accessibility: The closer you are to the city’s center, the easier it is to find a cab quickly. You can call to request a pickup or hail one from the sidewalk. Around bar close, though, they’re hard to come by no matter where you are.

 

Wait Time: The wait time was seven minutes. Around five minutes after the order was placed, we received a phone call with a recorded message from the president of Yellow Cab thanking us for our business and informing us our driver had been dispatched. It was a nice touch.

Travel Time: About 15 minutes. He took a direct route (Livingston to Grant to Fourth to Spring to Grandview).

Professionalism: The taxi was as clean as you’d expect a taxi to be. It smelled fresh. The driver was courteous. He didn’t strike up conversation but responded when we did. He rolled up the windows when asked.

Price: About $20 with tip. Cabs accept cash and almost all accept credit cards, too.