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Uber vs. Lyft: who wins on price and convenience in Utah

By Debbie Dujanovic, KSL TV and Mark Stevens, KSL TV | Posted - May 15th, 2018 @ 11:02am


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SALT LAKE CITY — Whether to a concert, a ball game, or dinner out with friends, more and more Utahns are hailing an Uber or a Lyft to get where they’re going.

But users who rely on one app over the other may not be getting the best deal, or could be waiting too long for a ride.

KSL Investigator Debbie Dujanovic recently saw just how much the difference can be: to travel exactly one mile, one company wanted to charge $15 more than the other for the trip.

With that in mind, the KSL Investigators decided to put Uber and Lyft to the test, comparing 118 rides to see which rideshare company wins on price and convenience.

Each rideshare company has loyal fans.

“Uber has just always been so good to me,” said rider Eric Fleming.

“I favor Lyft,” said rider Emily Beery.

But could loyalty cost consumers more money?

Cost comparison

The KSL Investigators compared rides on different days and at different times: during the 5 o’clock rush hour, at 2:00 p.m., and at 10:00 p.m., because we know prices change depending on the time of day and how many drivers are available.

“People say that there’s like, if it’s a Friday night, they charge you more,” said rider Martine Celestin.

Both Uber and Lyft explain on their websites that fares can surge higher depending on supply and demand. Depending on which app you use, it’s called surge pricing or prime time.

According to the website Ridester.com, surge prices can double Lyft fares, while Uber fares can climb up to seven or eight times higher.

The KSL Investigators found a few noticeable differences.

Uber was $7 cheaper on one ride heading from KSL to Big Cottonwood Canyon. Taking Lyft on another ride would have saved $6 from KSL to Smith’s Ballpark.

Of our 118 rides, we found Lyft was cheapest 69 percent of the time, but the competition was very close.

Even on a Utah Jazz playoff night, we didn’t see huge price differences. In fact, if we actually bought all 118 rides we price checked, Uber would have only cost us $43 more than Lyft. That’s an average of only $0.36 cents more per trip. Riders who price compare before they pick a ride told us they didn’t notice big differences either.

“I only remember noticing when it was drastic like when it was like $10 cheaper or something like that,” said rider Mark Sena.

Rider Christine Paquette said, “In Berkeley, Uber is normally cheaper, here Lyft was cheaper so I did Lyft.”

Paquette says even when traveling, she always price compares the apps and uses coupons to save money.

“I would choose obviously the cheaper one,” said Paquette.

Waiting for a ride

We did notice some difference in wait times during our test.

On one ride from downtown Salt Lake to the Salt Lake City International Airport, Lyft had a rider available two minutes faster on a Friday afternoon. That same afternoon, Uber could have gotten us a ride from KSL to Bountiful five minutes faster. The biggest wait we encountered was on our ride from KSL to Smith’s Ballpark. Lyft was 11 minutes faster.

Look for discounts

Both companies offer promotions and discount codes for new and existing riders. During one of our tests, Lyft added a coupon for a few bucks off the fare automatically.

Website retailmenot.com also offers coupons for discounted rides on Uber and Lyft.

Bottom line: whichever rideshare company you choose, it pays to compare.

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Debbie Dujanovic
Mark Stevens

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Updated: Saturday September 22, 2018 5:38 pm