On the surface, these TNC companies are a great value for the passenger. The fares are less than a for hire service including a taxi. When you look deeper, are they really a good value or are you at considerable risk?
Consider, when you hire a TNC driver, this is what you are paying for. First, you are hiring someone who provides passenger transportation part time. As advertised, these are 'side hustles', not a full time job for the driver. Second, your driver is typically utilizing their personal vehicle, not a company car. When someone is using their personal car, the focus is not the passenger. This is their family car and may or may not be in top condition nor absolutely clean and ready for the public. Third, are you insured in case of an accident? In Michigan, any driver who uses their personal car for commercial purposes, in the event of an accident, has essentially voided their car insurance policy, meaning you as a passenger are not covered for injury or losses as a result of an accident while in the TNC vehicle. Lastly, when a TNC driver is paid, remember that low fare the passenger is paying, well the driver is paid from that low fare AFTER the TNC company takes their 30% commission. Example, if a TNC driver transports a passenger 5 miles during normal conditions, the total fare could be $7.30. The commission taken would be $1.90 leaving a total payment to the driver of $5.40 for a 15 minute drive in city traffic. IF the driver is able to pick up another rider immediately, theoretically the TNC driver could make up to $20 an hour. Sounds great right? Consider that out of that $20, the driver has to pay for their fuel, costs for maintenance, insurance and what is left is their actual pay BEFORE factoring approximately 30% self employment taxes that the driver is ultimately responsible for. When all is said and done, the driver probably won't drive for a long duration of time as they will realize they are not actually making the money they were anticipating in this 'side hustle.'
Utilizing a 'for hire' service is 100% customer focused. One, The driver from a for-hire service who picks up a passenger, this is their job. It's not something they are doing after work or on a weekend to 'hustle' a few extra bucks. This person is trained in customer service and will definitely be dressed professionally in either a company logo'd uniform, business casual attire or possibly black pants, white shirt and tie. Drivers are paid either a flat rate for a shift or an hourly rate plus gratuities. Second, vehicles from these services would most likely be cleaned inside and out with great attention to detail for your comfort. Third, a legitimate ground passenger transportation company is going to be one licensed by the Michigan Dept of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs or Michigan Dept of Transportation depending upon the passenger capacity of the vehicle. This means the state, as well as you the passenger, know they are a legal 'for hire' service. Passengers are allowed and encouraged to, ask to view the company's license. Fourth, Included with this license, you can be assured the service you hire is commercially insured. At a minimum, a limousine company is required to carry $1 million in passenger liability insurance. Taxi companies are required to carry $300k of liability insurance and TNC drivers are required to carry $50k per individual - $100k per accident of commercial liability insurance on behalf of the driver. While this is a requirement, most drivers who work with a TNC, do not have additional commercial liability insurance on their vehicles either because they do not know or understand the requirement or they have asked their agent/company for a quote and do not want to pay the high premium for the coverage. Most personal lines insurance carriers actually prohibit the use of their personal cars for commercial use including TNC transportation services. Again, you as the passenger are encouraged to ask to view the company certificate of liability insurance.
For hire services are going to cost more than a TNC ride. It's difficult to estimate the rates as each companies' overhead is different. Even with this variable, you are definitely getting what you pay for and are fully insured in the unlikely event of accident. Be diligent, ask questions, Is saving a few dollars compared to the risk of an unfortunate incident worth the consequences? Protect yourself and arrive safe!