Ride-share companies create, not reduce, traffic congestion

By Richard A. Lovett : cosmosmagazine – excerpt

Study finds cars-for-hire business model does nothing to reduce private vehicle use or ownership

In a blow to the image of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft as solutions to traffic congestion, researchers have found that they are actually major contributors to urban gridlock, at least in one major city, San Francisco in California, US.

These services, technically referred to as transportation network companies (TNCs), “were kind of born in San Francisco,” says Joe Castiglione of the city’s Transportation Authority.

By 2016, he adds, they had not only exploded into a global industry, but were generating nearly 200,000 rides a day in San Francisco alone.

“[In 2016] about 15% of vehicle trips in San Francisco were on TNCs,” adds Gregory Erhardt, a transportation engineer at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. To put that in perspective, fewer than 1% of the city’s vehicle trips are by taxi.

“Initially,” Castiglione explains, “there was a lot of enthusiasm because here was this great, new, affordable, fast-mobility option.” But now, he adds, “people [have] the perception that congestion in San Francisco has gotten much worse, and there were TNCs everywhere.”

To find out exactly what was going on, the city began collecting data on just when and where people were using ride-sharing services… (more)