Choosing Impact: Uber or Lyft?

Choosing Impact: Uber or Lyft?

April 27, 2020 • by Robert Jones


Choosing Impact: Uber or Lyft?

Choosing Impact: Uber or Lyft? 1920 1080 Robert Jones

Being a Cause Consumer is all about awareness and choice: Awareness that spending can be a tool for positive change, and the choice to spend with companies that are doing the most good.

For most of us, that doesn’t come naturally. When we look at two competitors in the market, we’re just not conditioned to ask, “I wonder which one is doing the most to make the world a better place?”

Take ridesharing, for instance. How many times have you opened both Uber and Lyft apps to compare which driver is the closest or which one can get you to your destination the cheapest?

Those are valid concerns, of course. But if any given ride is basically a wash in terms of cost and travel time, isn’t it also worth considering where your transportation spending could do the most good?

That’s the kind of tie breaker that sets you apart as a Cause Consumer.

We’re not just talking about the corporate response to coronavirus. Both Lyft and Uber have stepped up in a big way to provide first responders with wheels on demand and to get food and medication to vulnerable people who lack their own transportation.

It’s great to see companies responding well in a crisis, but what about day in and day out? Does either of the ridesharing giants seem to have social impact woven into its DNA – or are they just checking all the expected boxes for corporate social responsibility?

Here’s our calculus, offered purely as a conversation starter.

Uber

The original — and still the leading — ridesharing service promotes fairly straightforward corporate citizenship priorities like safety, diversity, and sustainability. The tone can be almost academic: “Our data from more than 10 billion trips can help urban planners design cities of the future,” the company boasts.

Other times, “social impact” sounds more like answering the critics of ridesharing. Under the heading “Strengthening public transit,” for instance, Uber notes that “Riders can request a ride between 10pm and 4am, when public transit might not run as often or is unavailable.”

The company does get more creative — and personal — when it tackles issues like accessibility, adapting its technology to allow more opportunities for deaf drivers. That’s a segment of the population where un- or underemployment tops 70 percent, so Uber’s initiative is noteworthy.

Uber also has a unique partnership with senior centers across the country, allowing older Americans to maintain their independence and access healthcare more efficiently. And we appreciate Uber’s record on gender inclusion: In an effort to balance a male-dominated industry, the company announced an initiative to sign up 1 million female drivers by 2020 — then met and exceeded the goal by 2017.

Lyft

Healthy food is all but unreachable for millions of low-income Americans (as we learned in south Dallas, where a supermarket trip takes three hours on the bus). That’s why we love Lyft’s discount program for qualified riders headed to grocery stores, food pantries, and the like.

In 35 cities across the country, Lyft also offers free rides so that unemployed individuals can access job training and job interviews. Once someone finds a job, the free rides continue up to three weeks until that first paycheck comes in. As a strategy for establishing financial independence, we think this is unmatched.

And did we mention free or discounted rides on Election Day? That’s just icing on the cake.

“Transportation for all” is the common vision that unites all these efforts, which fall under the company’s LyftUp initiative. “Millions of people lack access to basic needs because they can’t get a ride,” Lyft notes. By partnering with hundreds of nonprofits across the country, “we’re working to make sure everyone has access to affordable, reliable transportation to get where they need to go – no matter their age, income, zip, or postal code.”

The Verdict

Both companies are doing a lot of great things, but Uber’s efforts seem a little too rote or self-serving for our taste, while Lyft has clearly put a lot of thought into an integrated, strategic approach that leverages its unique strength as a transportation provider.

But for us, there’s one more initiative that really sets Lyft apart: It allows individual riders to round up every fare in support of a worthy nonprofit, including Raices, The Trust for Public Land, and the YMCA. Check out the 17 options here, and be sure to use the Comments section to tell us which one you’d choose — and why. (We’ll circle back later to tell you which cause we’re riding for this year.)

It’s great when corporations do good things, but it’s even better when they empower consumers to make their own individual choices for social impact. That’s why Lyft is the only app we use for Cause Consumer business travel.

***

This represents the unbiased opinion of Cause Consumer, based entirely on independent research. We have no business relationship with either company. 

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