If you’re a rider, you should have both the Uber and Lyft apps installed on your phone. When you decide you need a ride, open both and see if either has surge pricing in effect. If so, pick the other ridesharing company!
Now, there will obviously be some times when both Uber and Lyft have a surplus of ride requests and a shortage of drivers, leading to higher rates. In my experience, however, the magnitude of this surcharge may vary greatly from app to app.
This isn’t rocket science, but you’d be surprised by how many people simply rely on only one app. I mean, do you really think your ride is going to be that much different in an Uber or a Lyft? Granted, there is also the time factor to consider: if you’re in a rush, you might be willing to pay more for Uber if there are drivers close and the nearest Lyft driver is 15 minutes away.
On the driver side, one easy way to improve your earning potential is to drive for both Uber and Lyft, toggling back and forth between the two apps depending on which is busier and which is offering surge pricing. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of becoming a rideshare driver for one company, it’s not that much extra effort to go through the process of becoming a driver with the other company.
Here in Denver, when I first started driving a few years ago, it seemed like there weren’t many drivers who were doing both Uber and Lyft. More recently, however, I’ve seen many cars emblazoned with both Uber and Lyft emblems.
Eventually, my guess is that Uber or another company will buy Lyft (see Fortune and Bloomberg on the possibility). Until then, take advantage of the free enterprise system and pick the company that offers the best deal in the moment, whether you’re a driver or a rider.