As the most-downloaded travel app in the UK, Uber dominates as the go-to ride hailing service. The attraction to Uber in London, in particular, is largely driven by price - Uber is known to provide rides far cheaper than a black cab, as you can see in the following chart reflecting data gathered in July 2017. But that's not always the case.
During busy periods such as evenings and weekends, Uber imposes surge pricing. This surge may be relatively small - say 1.3X a regular fare - or more significant. We've seen rides costing 3X many times ourselves. Suddenly, Uber isn't so cheap. But when is Uber still cheaper than a black cab?
Price Check When UberX Surge Pricing Hits 1.7X
We compared the cost of hailing a black cab for a fixed fare from Gett, which is the UK's second most popular ride-hailing app, to the cost of an UberX. The results show that once UberX surge pricing hits 1.7X, Gett is just slightly cheaper for the same ride. When the Uber surge pricing rises above this 1.7X "breakeven" spot, Gett becomes even more attractive.
Why Does Uber Impose Surge Pricing Anyway?
You'll tend to notice Uber surge pricing when demand is particularly high. The idea behind the surge is that when demand (riders) outstrips supply (cars on the road), the higher fares will entice more Uber drivers to start working or drive to the area with high demand. While the theory makes some sense, it doesn't mean we should pay 3X for a ride home.
Install Both the Uber and Gett Apps
Smart Londoners can save money by installing both Uber and Gett on their phones. Uber can remain first choice - if there are Uber cars nearby and no surge pricing. But when Uber surge pricing hits or exceeds 1.7X, price check against the Gett app. Many times, for instance on a busy Saturday evening in London, you'll find a cheaper ride hailing a black cab with Gett. Both apps are free so there's no harm in having both apps available to you.
Below, you can find data on the average cost of rides between Green Park and various locations around London, to see how Uber surge pricing makes Gett more attractive at times. You can read more detail about the analysis, including comparisons amongst UberXL, UberEXEC and Gett XL, in our full study: Gett vs. Uber: Which is the Cheaper Hailing App in London?
Cost of Car Rides to/from Green Park on Gett vs. UberX
|Starting Location||Gett||UberX||1.7X UberX||2X UberX||3X UberX|
|Putney High Street||£21.05||£13.00||£22.10||£26.00||£39.00|
|King's Road and Beaufort Street||£11.97||£7.50||£12.75||£15.00||£22.50|
|Hampstead High Street||£19.64||£12.00||£20.40||£24.00||£36.00|
|Clapham Common South Side||£19.12||£12.00||£20.40||£24.00||£36.00|
Uber and Gett for Tourists in London
Tourists can also benefit from installing both apps on their phones before visiting London. This is especially true since riding in a black cab is one of the must-do tourist experiences!