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Uber vs. taxi: mapping price differences in Canada

  • Published Nov 10, 2015
  • Updated Jul 21, 2022
  • 376 words
  • 2 minutes
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App-based ride-sharing service Uber has had its fair share of controversy since it launched in Canada in 2012. As regulatory reviews and safety debates rage on in several markets, fans insist Uber is simply better for their bottom line than a conventional taxi.

But is it really cheaper? It turns out the answer to that question depends on where you live.

A new study by the data visualization experts at The 10 and 3 shows using UberX (Uber’s lower-cost option) can result in savings of anywhere from 20 to 50 per cent over regular taxi fares.

Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are by far the best places to choose Uber over a taxi, with customers saving 50, 44 and 41 per cent respectively compared to a cab fare for the same trip. At the other end of the spectrum are smaller markets like Quebec City and Hamilton, Ontario, which see savings of less than 30 per cent compared to an equivalent taxi fare.

Map authors Daniel Kolanko and Zack Gallinger say this discrepancy is likely because travelling longer distances at higher speeds with Uber — for example, along the highway — tends to result in greater savings than short trips around town.

“Uber typically charges a smaller per-distance rate plus a standard per-minute rate,” they explain, “whereas taxis typically charge a sizable per-distance rate plus a small per-minute rate when in stopped or slow traffic.”

However, anyone who has used Uber (or its competitor, Lyft) knows it isn’t always the cheaper option. Uber jacks fares during high-demand times such as concerts and sporting events in an effort to entice more of its drivers onto the roads — a tactic called “surge pricing.”

Faced with the challenge of hailing a conventional cab during these busy times, many Uber customers just bite the bullet and ride. As The 10 and 3’s map shows, it pays off at other times.

Read more about The 10 and 3’s methodology here.


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