Uber and Lyft lead to more congestion
Like traditional taxi service
Uber and Lyft drivers make a lot of ‘dead rides’, rides without a passenger. Half of all Uber-like kilometers are ‘dead rides’.
While the service started as an opportunity for car drivers to make some money sharing the ride they were already planning to do with paying passengers, the service now often works like a traditional taxi service.
In Western Europe, Uber is still too small to measure the impact, in New York, the company and comparable services transport more passengers than the traditional yellow cabs.
In San Francisco their share is at 15%. Many of the drivers live outside the city, which causes more traffic of cars driving into the city.
An additional factor causing traffic jams are cars stopping to let passengers in or out. Cars behind them have to slow down or even stop and wait, which creates a kind of jojo-effect. When they stop in bus lanes, they can even create delays in public transport.
Both Uber and Lyft want to increase the number of pool rides, where different people share a trip or parts of it. This would have a positive effect on congestion. Taxation on cars entering city centres with only one occupant, as proposed in New York, could support this evolution.
The study uses a model made to predict traffic growth and congestion based on data from 2010. With this model, researchers can extrapolate these data to 2016 without taking into account Uber-like services. They then compare those figures to actual 2016 figures, resulting in a view on the influence the services have.
Lyft doesn’t agree with the results of the study. While the increase in traffic is undeniable, attributing it mainly to ride-sharing is a bridge too far, according to the company. It mentions the boom in online sales and subsequent parcel deliveries as an attributing factor. It also says it invests in other services and shared bikes to combat congestion.
The report comes at an inconvenient time for Uber, which is due to launch on the Nasdaq tomorrow. Both Uber and Lyft refused to cooperate with researchers making the study for San Francisco, saying that putting company data to the researchers’ disposal would not be “in the public’s interest”. Researchers therefore found an alternative electronic way to access the data they say is legal.
Relations between ride-sharing companies and a number of the cities they operate in are at a low. Due to the popularity of the services, cities find it difficult to abolish them. San Francisco wants to introduce a tax of 3,25% on rides (1,5% for shared rides). Closer to home, the City of Amsterdam will sit down with Uber to talk about traffic safety and sharing data.
Meanwhile, Uber drivers are on strike. Comparing their sometimes precarious situation to the massive financial gains the Nasdaq launch is promising investors, they feel wronged.