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Lyft Bowl: Which college town rivals win at rideshare?

Sarah Conlisk - Aug 28, 2023
Lyft Bowl Image Header

College football officially kicked off last weekend, and we’re excited. We love the athletic prowess, die-hard fans — and, of course, fierce rivalries, some of which have lasted over a hundred years. We wanted to conduct our own contest to see how the country’s most notorious rivals compare, not on the field but in the cutthroat realm of rideshare. 

So we went to the data to find out: In a head-to-head battle of rivals, which college town had the most impressive Lyft stats? The most loyal or rated riders? The best tippers? The most complimented drivers? The results may not tell us who will win on the football field, but they do reveal the winners in our hearts.

The Metrics

Rides per rider: Our most active and loyal riders will always be #1 to us. 

Tipping percentage: Tipping is good for drivers and great for karma. Our second metric measures the share of each town’s riders who tip. 

Average driver rating: It’s no secret — drivers on the Lyft platform are fabulous. But where are they more fabulous? 

Average rider rating: You may not be aware of this, but drivers rate riders, too! Our fourth metric captures how highly rated Lyft riders are. 

Average MPH: This metric honors drivers who are particularly nimble and efficient, adapting to traffic conditions and getting riders to their destinations promptly. 

Percentage of rides receiving driving-related compliments: You know a driver is really great when a rider takes the time to leave some positive feedback. 

Percentage of rides to or from a sports venue: This metric allows us to estimate which town has the more lively, loyal fan base. 

OK, so…who won?

The Ohio State University vs. University of Michigan

Ohio State vs. Michigan

The very first game between Ohio State and Michigan took place in 1897 — before the proliferation of the automobile! We tip our hats to residents of Ohio State’s hometown, outside Columbus, who have the most loyal and active Lyft riders. Strong start. But Michigan came from behind for a surprising upset: 2% of all rides in Ann Arbor are to a sports venue (that’s even more than rides to bars). And the town’s drivers were showered in compliments, high ratings, and extra dollars. In the end, the winner was clear: Go Blue!

Lyft Winner: University of Michigan

Auburn University vs. University of Alabama

Alabama vs. Auburn

Without a professional sports team to unite behind, there is a fierce intrastate rivalry between the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Auburn University in Auburn. In fact, the rivalry was so contentious that the teams had to stop playing each other for 41 years (from 1907 to 1948). Our contest was also contentious, as the two were quite evenly matched. The town of Auburn had a great showing, particularly from riders, who tipped well and sported an average rating of 4.99. But ’Bama’s loyalty — to Lyft for taking many a ride and to its teams for attending so many in-person sports events — helped it come out on top.

Lyft Winner: University of Alabama

Army vs. Navy

Army vs. Navy

Navy and the residents of Annapolis, Maryland, made an “admiral” effort, but the real salute here goes to Army. Its home base in West Point, New York, scored the highest on a whopping three of our metrics: The percentage of riders who tip, average miles per hour, and the number of rides to sports venues. Army’s landslide win isn’t too surprising to us; after all, Lyft’s platform doesn’t yet include boats.

Lyft Winner: Army

Notre Dame vs. University of Southern California

Notre Dame vs. USC

This long--distance rivalry emerged in 1926; Lore says it all started after a snowy Thanksgiving game, when the wife of the Notre Dame head coach conspired with the wife of the USC athletic director to set up a game in sunny California. 

Whatever the case, the rivalry persists — on the field and on the roads. While the Fighting Irish riders in South Bend displayed their gift of gab, bestowing compliments on drivers and earning relatively high ratings themselves, they were, ultimately, no match for L.A., where there are more loyal riders going to more sports events and better-rated drivers.

Lyft Winner: University of Southern California

University of Florida vs. University of Georgia

Florida vs. Georgia

Boasting one of the most raucous pregames in college football, the University of Georgia vs. the University of Florida game has been nicknamed the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. (Gentle reminder for those partaking this year in Jacksonville: Drink those cocktails responsibly and trade in those car keys for a Lyft ride!)

While the riders in Gainesville, Florida, were loyal and highly rated, they fell short of Athens, Georgia’s drivers, who are just slightly more popular, friendly, and well-tipped. Try again later, alligators!

Lyft Winner: University of Georgia 

Clemson University vs. University of South Carolina

Clemson vs. South Carolina

On November 25, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina will face each other for the 120th time, in a standoff known as “The Battle of the Palmetto State.” (For those wondering what a palmetto is, it is a fan palm and, coincidentally, looks rather like the left side of the figure above.) Despite their frequent encounters and similarities as large public universities only 132 miles away from each other in Columbia (USC) and Clemson, the rivals are wildly different — on the field and in rideshare vehicles.

While riders in Columbia are loyal — taking six times as many rides as folks in Clemson, they had no chance against the competitive spirit of the Tigers’ fans. Clemson’s truly knockout attendance at sports venues was one thing, but its stellar rider and driver ratings, as well as its high tip percentages, tipped (pun intended) the scales in its favor.

Lyft Winner: Clemson University

Florida State University vs. Miami University

Florida State vs. Miami

It’s not all sunshine when these teams set out to play each other; in fact, this rivalry can get quite stormy. On the Lyft front, while Miami drivers received better ratings, the Tallahassee riders averaged roughly one more ride a year and boasted an average 4.97 rating — just enough to chase those Hurricanes down and sneak out a win.

Lyft Winner: Florida State University

Harvard University vs. Yale University

Harvard vs. Yale

Harvard and Yale aren’t exactly most famous for football — as reflected in the fact that neither New Haven nor Cambridge customers take many rides to sports venues. But while Connecticut’s riders are loyal (some might say bulldog-like), Harvard-area riders tip and rate their drivers well.

Lyft Winner: Harvard University 

So much for the initial match-ups. Which team can take home the trophy? Whose riders and drivers are truly the best in the U.S.? The winner of the Lyft Bowl is…

Lyft Bowl Bracket