Rideshare or Public Transit: The Best Way to Get from the Airport in 20 Cities

While taking public transportation is almost always cheaper, it can often mean longer travel time and sometimes a rideshare is worth the time saved.

Rideshare or Public Transit: The Best Way to Get from the Airport in 20 Cities

Touching down in a new city, unsure of the best way to get from the airport to your destination—it’s one of the more miserable parts of travel. If you’re not lucky enough to have a friend or family member pick you up, it will probably come down to taking public transportation or calling a rideshare, like Uber or Lyft.

What’s the best option? Well, that depends on several factors. While taking public transportation is almost always the cheaper option, it can sometimes double or even triple your travel time. Depending on how much you value your time, it may be more efficient to take a rideshare.

We surveyed 500 frequent travelers and found:

  • 35% take a rideshare from the airport when they don’t have a friend or family member to pick them up
  • Nearly 40% say that price is the biggest determining factor when choosing a means of transportation from the airport, followed by safety at 30%
  • Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) say they have taken public transportation from the airport to save money
  • 28% say they would pay $25 more to get to their destination 30 minutes faster

Rideshare or Public Transit? We Did The Math For You

We analyzed 20 popular travel destinations within the United States and compared the average cost and travel time of a rideshare and public transportation from the airport to the downtown area. In order to consider the value of the time saved between the two options, we used $0.83 per minute (see methodology for how we established this value).

The Six Cities Where Rideshare is More Cost-Effective Than Public Transit

New York, New York - La Guardia Airport
Charleston, South Carolina - Charleston International Airport
Las Vegas, Nevada - McCarran International Airport
Miami, Florida - Miami International Airport
Los Angeles, CA - Los Angeles International and Long Beach Airport
Austin, Texas - Austin-Bergstrom Airport
Dallas, Texas - Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

The Breakdown for 20 Cities

CityAirportRideshare TimeRideshare PricePublic Transit TimePublic Transit CostBest Option
Atlanta, GeorgiaATL20 min$19.0022 min$2.50Public Transit
Austin, TexasAUS28 min$19.0051 min$1.25Rideshare
Boston, MassachusettsBOS16 min$25.7521 min$1.70Public Transit
Charleston, South CarolinaCHS16 min$20.2554 min$2.00Public Transit
Chicago, IllinoisORD32 min$35.5052 min$5.00Public Transit
Chicago, IllinoisMDW30 min$21.0021 min$2.25Public Transit
Dallas, TexasDFW32 min$23.0013 min$2.50Rideshare
Honolulu, HawaiiHNL13 min$39.5032 min$2.50Public Transit
Las Vegas, NevadaLAS15 min$19.5044 min$2.00Rideshare
Los Angeles, CaliforniaLAX36 min$31.2578 min$10.25Rideshare
Los Angeles, CaliforniaBUR45 min$28.0037 min$6.00Public Transit
Los Angeles, CaliforniaLGB45 min$34.00110 min$3.00Rideshare
Miami, FloridaMIA10 min$19.5037 min$2.35Rideshare
New Orleans, LouisianaMSY29 min$37.2565 min$2.00Public Transit
New York, New YorkJFK58 min$61.2577 min$7.75Public Transit
New York, New YorkLGA30 min$40.5076 min$2.75Rideshare
Orlando, FloridaMCO32 min$31.2548 min$2.00Public Transit
Phoenix, ArizonaPHX12 min$12.0048 min$2.00Public Transit
Portland, OregonPDX30 min$30.0050 min$2.50Public Transit
San Diego, CaliforniaSAN17 min$12.0018 min$2.25Public Transit
San Francisco, CaliforniaSFO29 min$29.7531 min$8.95Public Transit
Seattle, WashingtonSEA31 min$36.5038 min$2.50Public Transit
St. Louis, MissouriSTL23 min$36.7537 min$4.00Public Transit
Washington, D.C.DCA19 min$16.0022 min$2.40Public Transit
Washington, D.C.IAD45 min$44.7566 min$8.85Public Transit


For each airport we considered:

  • Average cost of rideshare: using Uber and Lyft fare calculators for standard rides (non-pool/line) from airport to downtown area and averaged the results.
  • Average time of rideshare: using the average Google Maps drive time at 11am on a weekday.
    Cost of Public Transportation: according to local transportation websites.
  • Average Time of Public Transportation: using average travel time according to Google Maps at 11am on a weekday.
    Value of time saved taking a rideshare versus public transportation.
  • Value of time saved = (rideshare time - public transport time)*$0.83. Eighty-three cents is the value of a minute according to our survey results in which a majority of respondents said they would pay $25 more to reach their destination 30 minutes faster (30min/$25 = $0.83/min).

If the value of time saved is greater than the difference in price between rideshare and public transportation, then rideshare is more cost-effective than taking public transportation.

We surveyed 500 frequent travelers in the United States on transportation considerations via the survey platform Pollfish. The survey was conducted November 8, 2017.

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Brionna LewisBrionna Lewis

Brionna is on a roller coaster that only goes up. You can follow her on twitter @BrionnaLewis.