As a 30-year-old here in Billings, I do my best to avoid driving. Why? Well, gas cost and maintenance is one big reason. Also, coming from small-town life, it still makes me nervous at times when people decide Grand Ave is a speedway. So, I use alternatives a LOT. Mainly, my electric scooter and Uber. Though, I am using Uber less and less (and my own two legs more) due to cost.

ICYMI: What is Uber? Does Billings MT Have Uber?

For the few unaware of what Uber (or Lyft) is, Uber is a ridesharing service. Think modern-day Taxi, with competitively priced near-instant pickup rides. Or, at least, that is what Uber was when it started in 2016 here in Billings.

How is Uber today compared to 2016?

Conveniently, Uber keeps a forever record of ALL your trips. I have taken a TON of trips with Uber (and a handful with Lyft), so this isn't the easiest information to weed through. But, my first ever Uber ride was on March 18th, 2017 here in Billings. I took a ride from here at the Townsquare Tower (at that time, I was just a hotel guest) to a casino on Grand Ave. That ride cost me $11.82. Fast forward to a comparable ride my friend (I paid for) took to their house, and it was $14.95 (before tip).

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Quirks about Uber

Something you may not realize about Uber is the way they estimate cost. For example, from my house off of Grand Ave, to the Townsquare Tower, the price varies due to their "Dynamic Pricing Algorithm". Here's the breakdown of factors:

  • Time
  • Distance
  • Traffic
  • Rider to Driver Demand

Uber also has Surge Pricing, which goes into effect when things are busier, such as on weekend nights or at big events.

What's the issue?

My issue with Uber/Lyft etc is not only the price I pay for the ride but the money the drivers actually receive. I have a conversation every time I take a ride, asking them what their average take-home is, and nearly every ride they receive around $6, plus whatever tip you choose to provide. Yet, I have paid anywhere from $12 to $30 for a ride. Uber certainly isn't hurting for cash, at that rate.

What's your experience?

I'd love to hear back from our listeners that have used Uber, Lyft, or even the Taxi Service here in Billings. What is your overall opinion? I just wish the rides were cheaper, as paying $15 for a ride 10 blocks (that takes less than 5 minutes) seems high.

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