Article: It's Cheaper to Uber Than Own a Car in Chicago, Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles

Gotcha, when I heard travel, I was thinking leisure travel. Those are three places near the bottom of my list for leisure travel.

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Not to take this totally OT, but I sat in on orientation for the new crop of college kids. They’re firmly taught to Uber/Lyft to/from a night out. Discussion about splitting it 4 ways and everything.

I was slightly jealous that they get to grow up in a time like this. I remember calling cabs and waiting forever for them to show up.


I suspect there will be entire generations of kids who have never taken a traditional taxi.

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I do tend to play all the angles, too. When I say I take an Uber, it’s a $5 pooled ride, with $2 back in Sears points and paid via a $5 Dr.Pepper credit.

My concern is that Uber is very quickly bankrupting the taxi companies. It’s a capital intensive business (cars and maintenence and car lots) and so it might not be able to rebound very well if rideshares kill them off. Im afraid that the end game is going to be taxi prices (or much higher) for Ubers.

Here in SF we had a Taxi app that was very similar to Uber called Flywheel… it dispatched to any taxi in the city, and had buy in from some of the most reliable taxi companies. When Uber decided to do some ridiculous surcharge because the city was busy, you could just use Flywheel. It set a ceiling on prices.

Well, the taxi industry got so screwed up by the Uber competition that the owner of the most reputable company (DeSoto) had to sell to Flywheel and then when Flywheel got into financial problems a guy who bought Flywheel at a firesale, promptly started extorting other cab companies to let them use the app - so that the former Desoto Cabs would get most of the business. Problem is, thats a small fraction of the total cabs and now wait times are unacceptable.

Now we no longer have a citywide dispatch app.

No. Cabs brought this on themselves. Land at Las Vegas airport and take a cab to the strip you’ll get ok and off the freeway, see half the strip and get hot with a $30 fare.

Or take a Uber pool for $9


Or you threaten to call the taxicab authority and you walk away with a free trip.

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You and I might not put up with that crap. But how many millions have they fleeced unknowingly?

DC cabs are another mess. I’m so happy to never take cabs anymore. They’re also really gross inside vs. Uber/Lyft cars.

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5 years is unrealistically optimistic.

Henry Ford worked on a flying car (according to Wikipedia). We’ve had decent prototypes for probably 20 years, but they may have gotten cheaper and easier to make. The video you linked looks mostly CG and the actual results are not impressive. I’m not involved in this field, but my understanding is that the only problem we really solved is lift. The balance is still wonky (the whole thing is too light and the motion of a heavy human head could tilt the vehicle), and regulation framework is probably many years away, because a flying vehicle will likely require FAA involvement and lots of new rules. Autonomy is probably in early stages too, because it probably needs to have some idea of what those rules might be.

Isnt that kind of the point? An Uber driver is incurring the same incremental costs for a trip that you would with your own car, so Uber will never be more cost-effective without including the overhead costs of owning a car. Then there’s a pretty simple formula, where the cumulative markup for paying someone to drive you around is either more or less than the overhead costs of owning the car, depending on the number of trips you make.

I agree with others that the problem is the driver cost. The quicker the rideshare companies can reliably switch to automated cars, they can start actually making money without raising rates.

I also agree that owning cars will no longer make financial sense for many. I feel Vegas made a mistake by charging for parking if it wanted to encourage people to visit different properties. Ok, they did a reciprocal hotel parking agreement, but that still takes more work than before. Vegas does have some cheap car rentals because the alternatives are so easy now.

Like putting Amazon return kiosks at Kohls, now that Hertz local editions use Lyft to handle the passenger home dropoff and to provide cars for Lyft drivers, it is amazing how fast these companies link up with competitors to survive.

Sorry, I wasn’t talking about uber vs. owning a car. I was talking about uber vs. renting a car on vacation. There are so many places to visit where parking isn’t that expensive that it still doesn’t make sense to avoid renting a car.

But there are also many places to visit where you use a car for little more than to get to and from the airport, and you are paying for the car to just sit in a parking lot. Comparing Uber to renting isnt any different than comparing it to owning; it’s still comparing the overhead from renting to the markup from Uber, and depends entirely on the number of trips taken.

If you are limiting your potential destinations to places that offer cheap rentals and free parking, then yes, Uber will always be more expensive. But a lot of people visit a lot of places where that simply isnt the case.

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I’m in NYC and would not take a car if you gave it to me (except, of course, to sell it).


I contend that there aren’t really that many places where uber is cheaper than car rental for vacation. Most times I travel, I like to see more of the city/country than what is walking distance from my hotel. There are only a handful of places that have public transit good enough to get you anywhere in the city quickly.

I do kind of the opposite. I vacation in cities and avoid suburban or rural areas at all costs. Heaven would be NYC and Hell would be Orlando.

Whether Uber works for you is going to vary wildly based on your own variables. I don’t see much point in debating it.


Most of the hotels on the Vegas strip now charge $10-20 a night to park a car.

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There are various ways to get status that I think would avoid those charges (but not totally sure since I’ve never rented a car in Vegas).

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Its a shame. I’m in Chicago and there have been a few times I’ve taken the taxi and its been cheaper than Uber or Lyft, and quicker than requesting Uber/Lyft.
I liked it when these apps would tell you the surge rate. In Chicago, if it was 1.2x or more, taking taxi would be cheaper. But Uber removed that piece of information so its hard to judge nowadays.
Honestly, I have come to appreciate taxi drivers. I don’t have to tell them what route to take or take a u-turn, just tell them the destination… they know the city and get me to my destination quickly. With Uber/Lyft, I feel I have to be on top of it as most of the drivers rely on their phones to navigate and have limited sense of direction.