Rating the rides: FOX6 puts Uber, Lyft, and the cabs to the test to find the cheapest ride, and the fastest

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- When it comes to having someone else do the driving, the options in Milwaukee have changed dramatically in the last year. There are more cab drivers and new ride services hoping you'll choose them when you're looking to get from Point A to Point B.

There are a lot of factors to consider when you're looking for a ride -- but FOX6 News chose price and promptness, and put Uber, Lyft and the cabs to the test!

In this test, four volunteers walked out of Turner Hall for a night on the town, but there was a catch -- they wouldn't be riding together, and no one would drive themselves.

"When I say 'go,' I'm going to have you press an app for a ride. We're gonna meet for a drink in the Third Ward. We're gonna have a drink and we're gonna test again," FOX6's Ted Perry told the group.

Here's how it worked:

    Each called their designated cabs at the same time -- and then waited.

    Yellow Cab was the first to arrive, followed seconds later by Lyft. Three-and-a-half minutes later, the Uber car arrived. Eight minutes into the test, John was still waiting on American United Taxi to arrive.

    "You're the last man standing. What's the status?" Perry asked John.

    "Well this blue icon -- which I assume is the car, hasn't moved since I placed the order,"John reported back.

    Finally, 14 minutes after ordering a cab, the American United Taxi arrived at Turned Hall -- just about the same time the first two pickups were arriving in the Third Ward.

    All reported no problems with their rides, but one found it odd the Yellow Cab driver couldn't break a $20 bill on a Friday night.

    The cost  was a wash. It was $5.49 for Uber, which was the cheapest. American United Taxi and Lyft were just 11 cents more and Yellow Cab fell in the middle.

    After a round or two of drinks in the Third Ward, the riders tested again. This time, they were looking for a ride to Milwaukee's East Side.

    No one waited long for a ride. Only 72 seconds separated the first to arrive, Uber and Lyft -- and the last, American Taxi. All arrived at the next destination moments apart.

    As for price, Uber charged $8, and no tip was needed as they're part of the Uber system. Lyft came in at $9 with a $2 tip. Yellow Cab cost $10 with a $3 tip, and American Taxi was $10 with a $3 tip. Again, all of the riders found the rides and drivers agreeable.

    "I was pleasantly surprised. The Yellow Cab app was so good," LeeAnn said.

    It was expected that there are many options on a warm Friday night in Milwaukee's hot spots -- but one more test was needed. How good would each ride be when the riders were looking to head from the North Shore to Mitchell International Airport on a cold Thursday morning?

    As suspected, the two cab companies arrived first. Yellow Cab and American United Taxi showed up 10 minutes after the calls were placed.

    This, as Uber and Lyft riders waited.

    Two minutes later, Uber was there, and three minutes after that, Lyft arrived -- 15 minutes after a ride was requested.

    All rides took 20 minutes, but the biggest shock of the test was this: While the cab companies got there quicker, they definitely weren't cheaper. Yellow Cab came to $50 with a tip and American United was $51 with tip.

    Lyft was $30.25, and Uber was the bargain of the morning at $24.17 -- more than half of the most expensive cab ride.

    So why such a discrepancy in the price on the airport runs? Yellow Cab told FOX6 News they are required to run the meter, which will cost more on a longer run.

    American Cab said taxis are more regulated, but city officials say there are no regulations, saying cabs should account for that much of a difference.

    In defense of cab companies, they cannot change their rate during busy times or inclement weather. When demand for rides is high, both Uber and Lyft can increase fares, sometimes as high as 200% -- something you should know before deciding who's going to be driving you.