How Much Does it Cost to Make an App Like Lyft? The Main Calculations To Create A Taxi App

The idea of being the next Lyft or Uber is getting more and more attention from entrepreneurs around the globe. The only question is – can you provide the higher quality than all existing on-demand services?

It isn't that easy to build a good taxi application and get it into the iOS and Android app stores. To win over the ridesharing market, an app must offer frictionless access and marvelous user experiences for both drivers and riders.

It’s not an impossible task. This article won’t provide you with a business strategist or product manager, but it will explain what technology stack lays behind apps like Lyft and how much does it cost build taxi booking mobile app.

Lyft vs Uber. Who Are You Going to Compete With?

We all know that the market has its major dominating players.

1. Lyft

2012 witnessed the launch of Lyft, the San Francisco-based transportation company with a risky but yet successful label icon – the fuzzy pink mustaches on the front or on dashboards of taxi cabs, easy to spot from afar. Lyft works in roughly U.S. 220 cities, areas nationwide, and 9 cities within Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, and Vietnam.

The complex Lyft app

It’s pretty similar to Uber, with its own mobile app where users can see a map with location pin, animated nearby cars, an information of the nearest ride, and a button labeled "Request Lyft". There are multiple levels of service for users to pick:

1) Line – a shared ride option that allows clients to save up to 60% on fare;
2) Plain – for solo users or groups up to four;
3) Plus – provides larger cars and SUVs for big suitcases, boxes, or the large groups of friends.

The company uniquely builds a network of cars using an autonomous vehicle technology. Lyft is partnering with General Motors, based out of Boston and Singapore self-driving car startup nuTonomy, and autonomous tech company Waymo. Just recently, Lyft declared a new funding round of $1 billion led by CapitalG, Google’s venture arm. It’s clear that Uber’s latest misfortunes became a blessing for Lyft. As it was reported in July, the revenue earned by Lyft’s drivers grew by about 25% to $1 billion in the second quarter of 2016. That’s a bit faster growth than Uber had, but how long will it last?

Driving the future with Lyft

2. Uber

The biggest omnipresent on-demand company with the largest number of cars and drivers, it’s been dominating the ride-sharing industry since its launch in 2009. It took over more than 60 countries and reached the point of $68 billion in value. Someone was before Uber and someone will be after, but still, no other company was fortunate enough to completely beat this giant.

In addition to the provided user’s and driver’s technologies, Uber has invested in the development of its own self-driving cars and flying one (hello, the Fifth Element!). However, due to the recent scandals accompanied by clients’ complains about various troubles during the ride, infamous price gouging, and incidents like #deleteUber, enormous numbers of users moved from Uber to other rather pleasant on-demand taxi alternatives.

3. Curb

This is a much smaller app-based taxi service from Alexandria, Virginia. Formerly Taxi Magic (2009) and RideCharge (2007), since 2014 Curb works in approximately 60+ U.S. cities nationwide, partners with 90 cab providers and has around 35,000 cars. It connects people with safe, insured, fully licensed rides from reliable professionals, and other for-hire drivers. Their motto that is reflected in logo declares that "all rides begin and end at the curb".

Curb’s app opens up to a map with your location marked and shows available nearby cabs. Here, you can book a taxi instantly or schedule the ride up to 24 hours in advance, and pick a vehicle that suits your needs best. Their cabs are available at any hour and ready to pick you up at any supported location. As for the payment option, clients can choose from paying fares within the app itself or with cash.

Curb Taxi App

4. Grab

The leading ride service is formerly known as GrabTaxi that operates in South East Asia since 2011 (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and The Philippines). Like all the above-described competitors, the company has a mobile app platform for smart- (Android, Blackberry) and iPhones. There was a total of $1.44 billion in equity funding raised by Grab, and more than 75,000 registered cab drivers joined the network.

Their goal is to revamp South East Asian local taxi markets by providing simple, cost-effective technology for both the supplying dispatch companies and passenger. According to them, the taxi industry should become safer and more efficient. Last December Grab even accepted the alliance with Lyft, Didi, and Ola, in order to surpass Uber and expand beyond the Asian market.

Read Also: How to Make an App Like Uber and Make Money?

Lyft’s Features That Lead to Success  

When discussing taxi booking apps like Lyft and Uber, you have to keep in mind that there are always two separate applications involved: the driver’s app and the passenger’s one. They have different functionality that allows drivers to fill out a complete profile with car and personal information, start working, and control their orders (accept, cancel, or request a trip). And the clients’ side functions allow ordering a cab, based on preferences, payment methods, etc.

The number and complexity of features are two huge factors that influence the cost of taxi app development. Since some of the features of both driver and passenger interface overlap the development process will be a bit easier, but each app has its essential and unique features too. Here’s is a list of basic functionality of taxi apps like Lyft.

Driver’s Interface Features

  • Profile/Registration Panel With Settings
    Here drivers verify their tax numbers and get approved by the administrator when they set complete profile info, vehicle (insurance and inspection) and payment details.
  • Status Indicator
    The Go Online button allows to receive and accept rides, or schedule them. There is also an ability to play with navigation preference, high earnings alerts, and set up the Amp light.
  • Booking History & Earnings
    Drivers can check all their rides history and get the info about daily or weekly earnings.
  • Cost Estimation
    This part of the menu shows the exact fare a user has to pay, according to the travel distance.
  • Push Notifications
    Handy feature for order alerts and updates, booking data, etc.
  • Navigation a.k.a Maps
    Provides drivers with optimal and fastest directions; shows Prime Time surge areas.
  • Ratings & Reviews
    Clients must be able to rate the driver, and driver in return rates his users. The rating system could be implemented in stars, bonuses, or compliments
  • Referrals
    Displays app’s promo code and shows how much one can earn (cash or points) by referring new drivers or passengers.
  • Communication/Messaging
    Unlike the Uber, Lyft doesn’t allow to communicate within the application itself, but your app could offer this way of messaging instead of SMS or combined with it.
  • Support Dashboard
    Basically, a tool to manage account, contact the company, or get some technical support in the ‘Help’ section.

Passenger’s Interface Features:

  • Login/Profile
    Users should be able to register and access the app via a phone number, email and/or social media channels. In a profile, they may fill out the accounts, credentials, preferred payment options, and some personal data (name, date of birth).
  • Booking & Cost Estimation
    A menu that allows to point out the location, pickup point and desired time, select a cab type based on individual preferences, and see the approximate price of the ride before ordering. Also, there has to be an option to call a driver, and the booking history should be stored.
  • GPS, Map, and Tracking
    Lets clients check nearby streets, traffic, and track their own and driver’s current location, make updates before or during a ride, etc.
  • Payment Gateways
    Cashless in-app, automatically via credit cards, an invoice to a smartphone and email, plain cash directly to a driver.
  • Push Notifications
    Updates on order status and car/drivers details, changes, estimated time of arrival, etc.
  • Messaging, Ratings, Reviews
    Same as in the driver’s section just for passengers side.
  • Support & Company Contacts
    A form to get in touch with taxi provider, ask for help or leave a complaint.

That’s about it with standard features you can’t avoid implementing in taxi booking apps. Additionally, you’ll need to handle all the processes and requests from both clients and workers, so there would be a central admin panel. A web app that manages communications with users, draw ride routes, process payments, and so on. However, people already have seen it all, so you must also provide some interesting innovations that would impress the target audience and pursue to drop Lyft or Uber.

Like the new updates that were announced by Lyft not so long ago — the app will direct users to more convenient pickup locations. This will speed up the pickup and ride finishing, and customers would be able to see the amount of saved time if they agree to walk to the chosen pickup destination.

Read Also: 12 Tools to Market Your new Mobile App

Lyft Calculator and Main Components

Now, let us get into some other technical details to determine the cost of Lyft-like application development. We won’t discuss every possible aspect of the process, but briefly review the general pillars.

Price-forming Components:

1. Frontend – Native Development (Android, iOS or both)

If your budget is tight then it would be wise to create the simplest taxi app for just one mobile platform. Which one – depends on the target market you plan to hit. In the USA, Apple’s iOS is quite a monopolist. But if we’re talking about other countries then Android would be a preferable choice. However, covering both OSs is a great decision for future business growth. From a technological point of view, digital tools, payment gateways, and frameworks for each platform would vary, but the backend and functionality would be the same. Development timeline for each platform would start from 200 man-hours.

2. UI/UX Design

Mobile app is defined by its user interface and experience that must both be flawless, eye-catching and easy-to-use. A designer has to build wireframes of each screen with the fundamental structure, all the buttons, toolbars, etc. Basically, make a comprehensive visual mockup and test it on focus-group to see how the app – human interaction is going and does it need improvements or not. Apps like Lyft usually require one designer on a team and 100-200 hours of works.

3. Backend Development

The backend infrastructure (API) that connects all application’s elements is the fundamental platform for a taxi booking mobile app. With the help of programming languages (Python/Java) developers would create a core of the application and link it to both passenger and driver UIs. All data would then be kept in a database system (MySQL/PostgreSQL). But the timeline can’t be defined accurately since it’s a delicate workmanship that requires precision. Generally speaking, each feature may take up to 150-200 hours, or more.

4. Web Development

A desktop or web-based admin panel can be built faster though, in around 120-160 hours.

5. Testing and Quality Assurance

This stage can’t be evaluated without the complete specification of all implemented features. When the app is done at least in the MVP format, the QA engineer would be able to estimate his work timeline.

Lyft Estimate. Pricing Table

A taxi app development company would tell you that it takes around 800-900 man-hours to build all the needed parts of both passenger and driver apps. So how much does it cost you to make an app like Lyft? Of course, the calculations we provide won’t be final, due to the fact that app’s price depends on the project’s specifics and features’ sophistication level. Also, the location and hourly rates of the professionals you hire matter too. Hourly rates vary greatly around the world, starting from $10 (Asia) and up to $150 (US/UK).

Assuming that our team charge from $30 to $50 (Eastern Europe), we calculated the approximate Lyft-like mobile application estimate:

Component Android Platform iOS Platform Both
Two Frontends (2 developers) $11.000 $13.000 $24.000
UI/UX Design (1 designer) $7.000 $8.000 $15.000
Backend (1-2 developers) $8.000 $8.000 $16.000
QA / Testing (1 developer) $6.000 $6.000 $12.000
Total approximate $32.000 $35.000 $67.000


Finally, the cost to develop taxi booking apps for both major platforms (including MVP development) can be around $70,000. Varying between more or less, accordingly to owner’s project and the need for further technical support or app marketing. And the price for single-platform apps like Lyft would range within $40.000 at maximum $50 hourly rate.

Conclusion

Once again, these are just the approximate numbers for taxi booking mobile app development. The reality is that such software could have higher or lower price that would be defined during development stages. The only concrete thing is the fact that creating an app like Lyft or Uber requires a lot of time, effort, and explicit programming skills. Therefore, it would be a wise decision for an entrepreneur to delegate the task to professional app developers that will find the best solutions for making a trustworthy and reliable product. 

If you have some questions about the topic, our team is happy to help you. Use the contact form to send your message and we’ll respond right away.

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