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The ride-hailing red herring

There’s a lot of data/speculation out there about the impact of ride-hailing apps. Many dense urban centers are claiming that they have increased traffic (slowed average speeds) and pulled people away from public transit. The University of Toronto published this study last year. And the WSJ recently published this chart for Chicago:

To be honest, I’m not sure how much of the above is a result of ride-hailing apps, overall urban growth, e-commerce deliveries, public transit disinvestment, or other factors. But what is clear is that ride-hailing is pretty convenient and most (if not all) cities are seeing massive growth in this space.

But all of this feels to me like a bit of a red herring. People will obviously choose what is most convenient and relatively affordable. And congestion was a problem well before people started using these apps (demand > road supply). The only solution I have seen work is to price congestion/roads.

3 Comments

  1. Cheryl Hawkes

    That study was not published by U of T . It is from the City of Toronto website and was done by the City’s own “Big Data” team with some assistance from the UofT group and relying largely on data provided by Uber and Lyft themselves. How can you compare congestion data before and after ride hailing when you’re only using data since ride hailing began? The City’s report disagrees with just about every North American study on ridehailing and congestion, including one released around the same time by Ryerson University that pointed to a definite correlation between the decline of public transit, increased congestion and the rise of ride hail use. And roundly dismissed but the City, which has a vested interest in continuing what is a very cosy relationship with the ride hail giants, particularly Uber. Read the headline of the WSJ piece you reference. Better still, read your own links. These companies claim a huge chunk of the fare for themselves, pay no taxes in Canada and are working hard to avoid or soften any and all regulation which may affect them ( including background checks and safety training) , undermine public transit and undermine public safety. It’s not speculation.

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  2. Cheryl Hawkes

    From the WSJ article: “The math is pretty simple and straightforward,” Mr. Schaller said. In a paper presented last month to the Transportation Research Board, he estimated that for every mile of personal-car driving the companies remove from the road in large U.S. cities, they add 2.5 miles of driving to a ride-hailing vehicle.

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