Battle of the rideshares: Uber vs Ola vs DiDi vs Bolt

Posted: 28 August 2019 1:56 pm
News

Which rideshare option is cheaper?

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If I had a dollar for every time I've heard a new tech-savvy company refer to themselves as "the Uber of our industry", I'd have – well – about enough to cash to grab an Uber home. With the taxi industry in Australia failing to modernise in any significant way after the dawn of smartphones, Uber’s launch in 2012 caused huge disruption. What it offered was simple – a far superior service at a much lower price point.

The market has changed so dramatically since then that it’s hard to believe that taxi journeys used to start with a hopeful phone call and end with a hefty 10% credit card charge (which still exists in some states – I’m looking at you, Tasmania). Uber faced some legal challenges on its initial launch and took a “let's just do it anyway” approach which, in the end, paid off. By the time Victoria became the last state to legalise rideshare services in 2017, Uber was operating in all states and had 100% of the rideshare market.

Legality swiftly brought competition. European company Bolt (previously Taxify) launched in 2017 with India’s Ola and Chinese competitor DiDi following in 2018. While initially matching and heavily discounting Uber’s pricing model, these competitors started to find their own groove over time.

In this piece, I’ll take a look at the pricing model of each to find out which company offers the best value in Australia's capitals. In other words, who is the new Uber of transport? Here's the round-up:

Sydney*

Charge Uber Ola DiDi Bolt
Base fare $2.50 $2.27 $2.25 $2.50
Booking fee $0.55 $0.50 $0.50 $0.55
Minimum fare $9.00 $7.50 $6.75 $9.00
Per-minute $0.40 $0.36 $0.34 $0.40
Per km $1.45 $1.32 $1.13 $1.45
Cost of 10min/5km trip $14.30 $12.97 $11.80 $14.30
Cost of 30min/15km trip $36.80 $33.37 $29.90 $36.80
Cost of 60min/30km trip $70.55 $63.97 $57.05 $70.55

Melbourne

Charge Uber Ola DiDi Bolt
Base fare $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Booking fee $0.55 $0.50 $0.50 $0.50
Minimum fare $7.50 $7.50 $6.98 $7.50
Per minute $0.38 $0.35 $0.35 $0.35
Per km** $1.15 $1.15 $0.98/$1.08 $1.15
Cost of 10min/5km trip $12.10 $11.75 $11.40 $11.75
Cost of 30min/15km trip $31.20 $30.25 $28.40 $30.25
Cost of 60min/30km trip $59.85 $58.00 $53.60 $58.00

Brisbane

Charge Uber Ola DiDi Bolt
Base fare $2.00 $0.82 $1.80 $2.00
Booking fee $0.55 $0.50 $0.50 $0.55
Minimum fare $7.50 $7.50 $6.60 $7.50
Per minute $0.38 $0.34 $0.34 $0.38
Per km** $1.15 $1.04 $0.93/$1.04 $1.15
Cost of 10min/5km trip $12.10 $9.92 $10.90 $12.10
Cost of 30min/15km trip $31.20 $27.12 $27.22 $31.20
Cost of 60min/30km trip $59.85 $52.92 $51.37 $59.85

DiDi comes out on top in terms of value, working out to be the cheapest option in all three cities studied. Uber and Bolt charge very similar prices across the board, but Uber takes the lead in terms of cost due to its higher pricing in Melbourne. Uber's surge pricing can make it even more expensive again, which has not been taken into account in this analysis (see notes below).

Shopping around is a good idea. You can be sure to get the best deal by signing up for more than one service and checking the cheapest fare on offer at the time of booking. There's a lot of competition right now in this market, and many of these providers are offering discounts for new customers – which is where you'll find the biggest savings. The following deals are live right now on Finder:

  • $20 off for new Ola customers
  • $5 off your first 4 rides with DiDi

Finally, it's important to note here that while all of these providers offer the same product, the service provided can vary quite a bit. Even though drivers may work across multiple providers, I've found that some provide a more professional and reliable service than others. Keep your safety in mind at all times and make sure to check that the registration number of the car matches the one on your app before jumping in, as you may not be insured if you get into an unapproved vehicle.

Comparison notes:

  • Surge pricing has not been taken into account. Uber's pricing can increase significantly during busy periods and other rideshare companies may also adjust their fares.
  • Discounts were not taken into account.
  • State-specific levies were not included. Some states, such as NSW and VIC, charge a set levy per trip of $1.10, while others such as WA charge a percentage levy on every fare. On top of this, some states charge a small insurance fee of 10c per kilometre. These charges apply across all rideshare and taxi options and are not included here.
  • Perth, Darwin, Hobart and Canberra have been excluded from this comparison due to the reduced number of rideshare options in those cities.
  • *DiDi fares were calculated for a trip in Newcastle due to the current unavailability of DiDi in Sydney.
  • **DiDi charges a higher per-km fare for the first 7km of each journey and a lower rate thereafter.

Graham Cooke's Insights Blog examines issues affecting the Australian consumer. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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