Peer-to-Peer Ridesharing by the (Unscientific) Numbers


An intrepid blogger writing for Quoted recently ditched his car for a month and sought to answer whether it’s cheaper to drive a personal car or rely on peer-to-peer taxicab services like Uber and Lyft. Keep in mind; Quoted is published by The Zebra– an online platform for comparing insurance rates and carriers. However, this unscientific experiment yielded some interesting (and curious) conclusions.

  1. Hitching a month’s worth of rides via Uber and Lyft was cheaper than owning a car, at least for the author. His total rideshare costs – 25 each for Uber and Lyft – totaled $527. Compare this to his monthly car payment of $333 and extremely short commute of less than 4 miles – and he saved $113. The author candidly admits these numbers are subjective and part of the savings came from Uber cutting its prices in January. It’s also not clear how he factored personal costs like insurance, maintenance and fuel into the equation.
  1. In polling drivers for the two companies, the job satisfaction rates averaged 92 percent – 84 percent for Uber; 100 percent for Lyft.

The blogger doesn’t say it but these job satisfaction numbers seem abnormally high – like the job approval ratings for Russian President Putin high. It’s easy to speculate that drivers, all-too-aware of the customer/driver ratings system used by Uber and Lyft, would be inclined to give glowing reports for fear of a low score from their passenger.

  1. Wait times for Uber and Lyft were about the same, varying only six seconds longer for an Uber driver to show up. What’s more interesting is that Lyft drivers were more likely to double-dip and drive for both companies than Uber drivers. On that point, Lyft drivers complimented the company’s mentorship program (though it lasts only 30 minutes).
  1. The least surprising finding from the month-long experiment: insurance is a mess for Uber and Lyft drivers. According to the article, 72 percent of the drivers told the author they “were not familiar with the[ir] companies’ insurance coverage. And a whopping 92 percent of “drivers did not tell their insurance company about their ridesharing gig.”

In other words, most Uber and Lyft drivers were ignoring or unaware of the huge liability created by using personal vehicles for commercial purposes.

While this experiment did have its shortcomings, the author was candid in it being a subjective report. That said, more journalists and bloggers should follow his example and get a close up look at the peaks and pitfalls of the sharing economy. Just imagine the anecdotes that could come from a person staying in a dozen or more Airbnb or HomeAway rentals.