Rental Car vs. Rideshare

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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My recent travel to Tempe, Arizona has resulted in dozens of flights in and out of Phoenix' Sky Harbor Airport.  They may have been rated America's Friendliest Airport, but the 18-minute shuttle ride to and from the rental car facility leaves me feeling anything but friendly.  Rental cars can be expensive; mine have averaged between $270-330 (plus gas and parking) on recent trips, so I decided to run a little experiment - is it cheaper to use rideshare services like Uber or Lyft?

I chose Lyft after hearing NPR's How I Built This interview with John Zimmer, the founder of Lyft.  I loved the story of Lyft, and the more I've read about their company culture and how they treat employees and contractors, the more I wanted to support them.

So how much did I spend on Lyft my October 9th-12th trip to Arizona?

  • Home to the DSM Airport - $15.16 plus $4 cash tip (this included a stop at my husband's office to say goodbye)
  • PHX to the hotel - $15.28 plus $2 tip
  • Hotel shuttle to nearby shopping center for pedicure and dinner - Free! plus $4 cash tip
  • Hotel shuttle from dinner to the hotel - Free!  Plus $5 cash tip
  • Hotel to Office - $6.43 plus $2 cash tip
  • Office to Hotel - $6.52 plus $3 cash tip
  • Dinner - delivered to hotel
  • Hotel to Office - $6.31 plus $2 tip
  • Office to Hotel - $6.56 plus $5 cash tip (she was an awesome driver)
  • Dinner - walked to dinner at nearby Tempe Marketplace and used the hotel's free shuttle to get back plus $5 cash tip
  • Hotel to Office - $7.93 plus $1 tip, this also included a pit stop at Chick-fil-a for breakfast on my way to work.  
  • Office to Airport - $9.32 plus $5 cash tip

I should note that my hotel offers a free shuttle within 5 miles of the property, and I could coordinate ahead of time to have free transportation to and from the office.  But that would require advance planning and possibly stops along the way as other guests are dropped off.

Rideshare total: $106.51
Rental estimate: $251.22 + $25 gas = $276.22
Savings: $169.71

Pros - I got to meet some nice people who know the city, and had some great conversations.  One woman had just picked up a rental car as part of a Lyft rental program, and it was great hearing how excited she was for her new car.  I talked to several people who enjoy driving for Lyft because they can work around caring for their kids or drive part-time in addition to their full-time job.
Cons - not every driver is a good driver, but Lyft's rating system ensures any driver I've rated a 3 or below won't be matched with me again.  Twice I had to wait up to 15 minutes for a ride, so now I'm scheduling Lyft's during prime time (to and from work)

Using a rideshare service like Lyft saved my employer some money, and also saved me the headache of the rental car shuttle.  The first week using Lyft, I limited myself to restaurants near my hotel, so for week two, I'll venture out a bit more and see if the savings still make sense!

Never tried Lyft?  Click here for $5 off your first ride - or more!

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