Life in the Bayou City is once again Uber good and Lyft fab. Governor Greg Abbott recently signed House Bill 100 into law, clearing the roads for ride-sharing heavyweights Uber and Lyft to offer services in Texas cities, including Houston.
The new law overrides local regulations, and while it calls for annual background checks on drivers, it does not require fingerprinting. The latter has been the subject of a much-heated debate between the city and ride-hailing companies, who have pegged it as overly burdensome for business operations.
With lawmakers now putting an end to the contention, Uber has announced it will keep on rollin’ in Houston, despite previous threats to leave the city. Lyft, which ceased operations in Houston in November 2014, is back in town — and just a (re)downloading of an app away.
The question remaining for most ride-sharing users? "Which app do I use?" It's nice to have options....
Nowadays, Uber and Lyft operate similarly, although there are still some unique differences. Here’s a breakdown so you can ride smarter.
According to Ridester.com, both Uber and Lyft charge around $1.00 to start a ride, plus $1.50 per mile and 25 cents per minute.
Translation: No matter which you choose, it will likely cost you about the same.
Uber appears to cover more area, including Houston, The Woodlands, Katy, Galveston, Spring, Baytown, Pasadena, Pearland, Rosenberg, Sugar Land, El Campo, and Lake Jackson.
Catch a Lyft in Houston, The Woodlands, Katy, and Galveston.
Choose your ride
Uber offers six options for catching a ride: UberPool, which allows you to ride with someone heading in the same direction and split the cost; UberX, an everyday car with seating for four; UberXL, an everyday vehicle with seating for six; UberSelect, a premium vehicle with seating for four; UberBlack, a black vehicle that seat four; and UberSUV, a SUV with seating for six.
Not much changes with Lyft. Choose between six options including: Lyft Line, which allows you to share your ride with someone heading in the same direction and split the cost; Lyft Lyft, an everyday car with seating for four; Lyft Plus, an everyday vehicle with seating for six; Lyft Premier. a premium vehicle with seating for four; Lux, a four-seat black car; and Lyft Lux SUV, a black SUV that seats six.
More of the same
The similarities between Uber and Lyft don’t end there. Both apps will estimate your ride cost based on the service you choose, the time of day, and how far you’re going. Note: Both also charge more during peak times. Uber calls it "surge" and Lyft calls it "prime time.”
What’s more, both Uber and Lyft offer discount codes.
And both are peace out if you don’t show up for your ride within five minutes of your car’s arrival.
And yet so different
If you want to dig down a little more, here’s a rundown of some of the differentiators between the two ridesharing companies:
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's boorish behavior, amid allegations of sexual harassment and unsavory business practices, has turned off some customers. More than 500,000 people deleted the Uber app earlier this year after allegations of price gouging surfaced in New York and similar accusations came up again after last weekend's terrorist attacks in London.
For Houstonians who feel the same way, Lyft is now an option, although some ill feelings may linger since the company abandoned Houston when it didn't get its way with the city council and only came back when the state legislature intervened.
Uber gives you an estimate of your arrival time before you confirm your ride. Lyft gives you an ETA only after you've requested your car.
Lyft let’s you schedule for a later pickup. Uber does not.
Uber begins charging you, per minute, after two minutes of wait time. Lyft waits to start the meter until you get in the vehicle.
Lyft allows in-app tipping. With Uber, if you care to tip, it's cash only.
Lyft's newest feature is a color-changing box called “amp," which looks sort of like a portable iPhone speaker. You'll find it on the driver's dashboard, lit up to match a color specifically sent to you before your driver arrives, and another on the back panel of the car, which displays your name. Thus, gone is the struggle that comes at the end of too many long nights (and early mornings) of which car is yours.
Uber has UberEats.