Uber and Lyft: Friend or Foe in the Battle for Livable Streets?

by : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

UberPOOL, which gives Uber customers discounts to share rides, launched about a year and a half ago in San Francisco. Uber is now rolling the service out to the East Bay.

UberPOOL is more affordable because the cost of the trip is shared. The fare per trip is set at up to 50 percent cheaper than UberX during commuting hours (7-10 a.m. and 5-8 p.m.) and up to 25 percent cheaper every other time–whether Uber pairs you up with another passenger or not.

Lyft Line, of course, is the equivalent service from Uber’s competitor. By combining trips, both should reduce congestion–that is, if one goes with the theory that car sharing services pull people away from single occupancy, privately owned cars. But what if they’re pulling people away from transit, walking and cycling?

There are certainly some conveniences, and even some benefits of ride-hail. So far, however, the data demonstrates that overall, ride-hail is adding vehicles to our streets,” said Nicole Ferrara, Executive Director of Walk San Francisco. “For those companies that are telling us otherwise, I say, show me the data!”.

A study from the University of California, Berkeley, seems to support Ferrara’s conclusions. According to a survey that was part of the study, over 40 percent of ride-hail customers said they would have walked, biked or taken transit. Survey questions were asked of ride-hail customers right as they got out of an Uber or Lyft. A previous Streetsblog post, looking at Uber’s impact in Manhattan, seems to support the claim that Uber generates more vehicle miles, more congestion and, one can extrapolate, more pollution…(more)

Not to mention the fact that many Uber and Lyft drivers do not live in SF but commute here from long distances to drive around all day waiting for a call. That adds to the number of single user cars and long distance commuters on the road. Of course this problem and many others, such as the Shuttle buses, could be solved by establishing multi-use transit parking garage hubs near freeways and bridges on the outskirts of SF. We are advocating for that solution.

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