Should You Use Uber or Lyft in Florida?

It's taxis vs. ride-share Lyft in many metropolitan Florida cities.
© Getty Images/Justin Sullivan, Photographer

Hailing a taxi can be expensive but ride-share businesses have become popular due to lower fares. The two most prominent transportation apps, Uber and Lyft, operating in Florida are used to arrange and pay for rides. Those rides are part of the ride-sharing movement that uses ordinary citizens, behind the wheels of their own vehicles, to drive you where you want to go for a fee that is usually much less than using a cab for the same trip.

Specifically, after a rider requests a ride via the app, he or she may track the vehicle via GPS watching it approach. The apps provide a picture of the driver and car, give their license plate number, and list reviews from other riders. Once the destination is reached, the rider gets out without paying the driver. The app will charge the rider’s credit card and send them a receipt via email. Riders can choose to add a tip and rate the driver after the ride via the app.

Why Choose a Ride-Share?

The main advantage of using Uber or Lyft instead of a taxi or limousine is that it’s less expensive. Both companies claim that their transportation service is 40 percent cheaper than a taxi. Charges vary by location for both these ride-share companies and taxi and limousine services, but from the Tampa airport, for example, Taxi service by Yellow Cab and United Cab charge a $2.50 initial fee, plus $2.40 per mile. The minimum fee from the airport is $18 and there is a flat rate fee of $28 to downtown Tampa and the cruise terminal, both popular destinations.

To estimate the price of a ride-share you can use a website such as UberEstimate.com.

Because customers of the ride-share companies rate the rides they receive, drivers are incentivized to provide perks that customers will appreciate. You may experience a cleaner ride with a ride-share. One of the major complaints against taxis is the lack of cleanliness of the vehicle.

Driver’s of Uber and Lyft may be friendlier and be more willing to offer specific tips for must-see attractions, places to avoid and not-to-miss nightlife opportunities. Some even offer bottled water during your ride and ask if you have favorite music they can play during the drive.

While drivers for both ride-sharing companies go through background checks, opponents are not satisfied that they are stringent enough; and, although vehicles are also “inspected,” how stringently depends on the company.

Uber and Lyft in Florida

When the ride-sharing companies started operating in Florida, transportation authorities in every city in Florida expressed displeasure at having the ride-share companies join the ranks of Florida’s highly-regulated transportation systems.

However, in 2017, Governor Scott signed legislation (HB 221) that allowed companies like Uber and Lyft to operate under the same set of rules statewide. The law ended individual city and county regulation of ride-sharing companies, which had been problematic. Now, ride-sharing companies are required to meet the same set of insurance and background check requirements statewide, including $1 million in insurance coverage when a ride-share passenger is in the car.

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