Uber? Lyft? Summon? Which of the 5 SF rideshares is really the best?

Joe Starkey

If you've lived in SF for any extended period of time, you know that we're all about our ridesharing apps. But, did you know that we have FIVE of them? And that some of them have karaoke? Or on-board kittens??

In an effort to help app-ucate you, here's a service-by-service breakdown of all five (one of them is still in Beta!) that includes a 1.5mi test ride we did for all of 'em, from Toronado in Lower Haight to Ritual in The Mission, wherein we measured both price and the time it took to pick us up (full disclosure: we also got beer and coffee at both). Here's literally everything you could need to declare a Best Rideshare App winner:

How Long Did We Wait?
 5 minutes
How Much Did It Cost (we went with Uber X)? $10
What Else? There are four regular Uber offerings -- taxi (just a regular taxi you can pay for through Uber), Uber X (Uber-vetted civilians will drive you around in their own cars and it's pretty cheap), Black Car (the OG service, includes a nice, roomy town car), and SUV (the most expensive, but also great for getting a huge group of people from point A to point B…ullitt). They also sometimes do special promotions that in the past have included stuff like a "kitten cab" where they'll come to your office and bring kittens to play with.

How Long Did We Wait? 6 minutes
How Much Did It Cost? $8 (but you could pay as much as $15 if you wanted a nicer car/more seats/etc.)
What Else? They unleashed a slew of options to try to set them apart from the pack, including the ability to choose your car, view driver profiles with pictures and a blurb about any amenities they offer, view drivers' experience levels & other people's ratings of them, and the ability to put in your starting point and destination and find out exactly how much it'll cost BEFORE you take the ride. Drivers set their price based on quality of vehicle and other factors (like how many people it can fit), so you can sort the list either cheapest to most expensive, or shortest ETA.

How Long Did We Wait? 4 minutes
How Much Did It Cost? $10.50
What Else? Formerly Instacab, this recently renamed app offers both cabs and personal drivers within SF -- cabs are priced at whatever's on the meter, plus a $1.00 convenience fee, whereas personal drivers are $3.50 base + $1.90 per-mile + $.40 per-minute. They automatically place a 15% tip fare on your ride, then you have 24 hours to adjust it afterward. Other than the ability to summon either a cab or a personal driver or both at once, this service seems to be pretty typical.

How Long Did We Wait? 6 minutes
How Much Did It Cost (during their "Happy Hour")? $8
What Else? The chattiest of the services, every car is easily identifiable by 1) the pink mustache on front, and 2) the "cool driver" inside who will want to fist-pound you. Unlike Uber (which does "surge pricing" where they increase the cost during high-traffic periods like after Outside Lands or 2am on St. Paddy's), Lyft is now doing "Happy Hour", which's the exact opposite of surge pricing, meaning when demand gets lower, so will prices. Up to 50%!!

How Long Did We Wait? No minutes, cause this is still in Beta
How Much Did It Cost? $4
What Else? Like taking a bus, but minus the pants-less guy talking to the bus schedule pole, Hitch'll let you drop a pin for where you are and where you're going, and a car will show up with other passengers on the same route. You get to meet new people and it's 50% less than cab fare. Hitch is currently in pre-launch, and officially set to launch in a few weeks, but because we're awesome, we got Beta hookups for 10 readers. Just tweet THIS to enter.

Joe Starkey is Thrillist's San Francisco Editor and quite possibly risked his life for that main photo. Follow his bad-ass self on Twitter.