Rideshare Showdown

We put Uber, UberX, Lyft, Hailo, and Atlanta Checker Cab to the test. Who won our race?

After a bill to regulate them died in the state House, private rideshare vehicles have multiplied on Atlanta streets like ants in spilled Coke. We wanted to know: Who’s quickest? So on a Tuesday in June, Atlanta magazine staffers revved up our smartphones at 8 p.m. sharp in a race from Sister Louisa’s Church on Edgewood Avenue to Ormsby’s on the Westside. Drumroll…

Commercially licensed drivers operate sleek black town cars and SUVs.
Duration, in minutes 12:58
Cost $23
Car Chevy Suburban
Tester notes Interior was pristine, with complimentary water bottles and candy. (Don’t bank on these perks every time; it’s up to the driver.) The app predicted a two-minute wait, but we swear we were gone in sixty seconds.

Regular Joes tote passengers in their own midrange vehicles.
Duration, in minutes 14:51
Cost $8.48 ($2.38 was shaved off thanks to an automatic promotion)
Car Nissan Altima
Tester notes Hey driver, we would have preferred AC to the wind blasting in our faces, but we’re not mad at ya.

Same premise as UberX but with more sass. Touts the website: “Hop into the front seat. Your driver will greet you with a friendly fistbump and take you where you want to go.”
Duration, in minutes 19:00
Cost $12 ($9 fare plus $3 tip)
Car Nissan Pathfinder
Tester notes Car was clean and the chatty driver was totally fistbump-worthy.

Contracts with licensed cabbies to combine the convenience of a mobile app with traditional taxi service.
Duration, in minutes 19:03 (virtual tie with Lyft)
Cost $20.10 (included $3.10 tip and a $1.50 Hailo fee)
Car Lenox Taxi van
Tester notes As clean as you’d expect. We set up an automatic 20 percent tip in the app, which the driver politely invited us to adjust at the end of the ride.

Atlanta Checker Cab
Founded in 1947, this local institution rolled out its own mobile app in 2012, allowing customers to reserve a cab but not pay in advance.
Duration, in minutes 26:17
Cost $23.70 with tip
Car Four-door sedan
Tester notes Because the app froze constantly and did not update driver location, we resorted to calling. (To be fair, a Checker cab passed by moments before we started the clock, had we wanted to wave it down. But what are the odds of that happening in this city?) Although the other four drivers took the Connector, our Checker driver used back roads.

The Winner – UberX!
Although we love Uber’s cushy black cars, its sibling is significantly cheaper—even for just a cross-town hop—making it the better choice for pairs and solo riders.

Video by Ben Rollins

This article originally appeared in our August 2014 issue.