Lyft recently launched in Toronto for the first time in December, beginning what is no doubt going to be intense competition in the City with several cab services and Uber at play. For a long time, Uber has been the only selection for a Liberty Village resident looking to hail a ride by smartphone. Now that Lyft has arrived and there’s another option in town, the market that Uber once had full dominance over is now at risk. So which one should you take – here’s what we think.
There’s more of an upside for Lyft drivers
Throughout the past month, many Liberty Village residents have already given Lyft a try and it’s actually been getting pretty decent reviews. For those who have criticized Uber for the way its independent contractors are treated, Lyft provides a similar in-car customer experience but under different conditions for the drivers.
Consider Lyft to be a bit more of an ethical version of what Uber initially presented itself as. Also, while Uber has battled regulations, Lyft has welcomed them. By Lyft, passengers are allowed to tip their drivers directly whereas Uber does not allow such a practice. Though some may disagree, those in the industry more often than not choose Lyft over Uber purely in terms of how the services’ drivers are treated.
The rise of Lyft, the ultimate alternative to Uber
Lyft initially launched back in 2012, focusing specifically on improving the experience of drivers, passengers, and employees. Lyft is very much a smaller company compared to Uber, which has become an industry-leading corporate conglomerate operating all over the world. That is not to say that Lyft doesn’t have operations across a similar scope. They do somewhat however the Lyft organization is still about half the size of Uber’s. The two companies have long done battle in the United States, competing for both customers and drivers. Now that the battle has moved up north to Toronto’s streets, Torontonians are left to decide what company they want to put their money towards.
The challenge of managing Uber’s increasingly complicated reputation
Uber is being hit from all sides it seems, these days. Consumer criticism, controversies, and scandal dominated much of the conversation surrounding Uber this past year. The Canadian and international media has shared stories on the bullish corporate culture, a series of sexual harassment cases, and an IT security hack that exposed the data of millions of people. In this same time period, the US government launched an investigation into whether the multi-national corporation was misleading local government regulators.
The challenges that have come with growing as quickly as Uber has and perhaps not having the infrastructure or management skill in place to successfully navigate the criticism the corporation has received leaves open an opportunity for Lyft in Toronto.
Is Lyft actually an alternative or more of the same – a discussion
Whether Lyft is a legitimate alternative to Uber is up for debate but what is clear is that the service has learned from Uber’s mistakes. The negative associations surrounding Uber bullying taxi unions and appealing or refusing to comply with government regulation, Lyft has steered clear from. Though the consumer experience is near identical, the philosophies of the companies differ and Lyft has chosen to encourage a more inclusive, collaborative approach.
Keeping this in mind, this past week, as a power outage in Toronto affected a significant portion of the city’s east side, approximately 20,000 customers were left in the dark and the subway service was temporarily disrupted. Amongst all this, under the guise of surge pricing, Uber and Lyft both increased their rates by as much as five times the normal rate. For rides that would typically cost anywhere from $20-$30, some customers were left paying upwards of $100 and more to get to work or get home. Needless to say, when some consumers needed it most, neither ride-hailing app platform came through.
Uber or Lift in Toronto – the Jury is out
For Liberty Village residents, there’s merit in taking Uber, Lyft, and/or even city taxi cabs. What we think it comes down to is where you want to put your money. Depending on what your views are on each organization’s philosophy, one may be better suited to you than the other. All in all, if Lyft is able to gain traction in the year ahead, don’t be surprised to see it grow as a threat to Uber dominance in Toronto and ultimately in Canada.