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Uber and Lyft Admit to Clogging Up City Streets with Their Cars

Aug 14, 2019 by CharismaticMannequin

They’re handy services, but they add plenty of cars to our roads. It’s an accusation both companies have defended themselves from plenty of times, though they’re starting to admit that they may be adding to an already existing problem of busy city roads.

While private car hires are still outpacing them in the congestion race, the studies both companies commissioned themselves found that the two companies’ vehicles accounted for between 1.5 and 3 percent to total vehicle miles in six major US cities.

“The study, which you can read in full here, was conducted by firm Fehr & Peers at the request of the two leading ride-share companies. It focused on the combined "Vehicle Miles Traveled" in September 2018 in six major U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. 

  • Boston: 1.9 percent
  • Chicago: 2.1 percent
  • Los Angeles: 1.5 percent
  • San Francisco: 2.7 percent
  • Seattle: 1.1 percent
  • Washington, D.C.: 1.9 percent” 


It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the companies however; the average percentage goes up when you start to narrow the focus down to the core counties of each area, with Boston rising to 7.7% and San Francisco hitting 12.8%.

It’s interesting to note from the study that these ride-share cars spent almost half their time (45%) of their time just looking for fares or travelling to pick people up. Seattle and Los Angeles were the only exceptions, with 70% and 75% of time spent with passengers in the car respectively.

It’s an interesting look into the ride-sharing business, more so with the study coming from the companies themselves. That means there are a fleet of cars (not even accounting for private hires and normal taxis) that are driving around aimlessly until fares are ordered. With a world looking to stem the effects of climate change, this shows a strong case for the implementation of technology like electric vehicles. 

There’s a wonderful congestion-free transport future for us all, but how it will come about (air transport, more public transportation, electric bikes/scooters/skateboards), only time will tell!


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