Studies are increasingly clear: Uber, Lyft congest cities

FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2017 file photo, the beginning of the morning rush hour traffic creeps along the Hollywood Freeway towards downtown Los Angeles. A promise of ride-hailing companies was a decrease in the number of cars in urban areas and an easing of the clogged streets of the city. But a study by a urban group suggests the opposite: That the ride-hailing companies can attract riders from buses, subways and bicycles and in cars. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

(Copyright 2017, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BOSTON (AP) — A promise of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft was less cars clogging the streets of the city. But studies suggest the opposite: that the ride-hailing companies pull the riders off the buses, metro, bicycles and their own feet and that they were in cars instead.

And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service of the Uber called Express swimming-Pool is now seen to compete directly with public transport.

Uber and Lyft are of the opinion that in Boston, for example, they are a complement to the public transport network by connecting the riders hubs such as Logan Airport and South Station. But they have not released their own data on trips, leaving studies to outside researchers.

And the effect of all these cars is becoming clearer, said Christo Wilson, a professor of computer science at Boston’s Northeastern University, who has looked at Uber’s practice of surge pricing during heavy volume.

“The consensus is that the ride-sharing (is) growing congestion,” Wilson said.

A study of the surveys 944 ride-coming users over four weeks in late 2017 in the vicinity of Boston. Almost six in 10 said that they would have used public transport, walked, cycled or skipped the trip as the ride-hailing apps were not available.

The report also found many riders not greeted rides to connect with a subway or a bus of the line, but instead as a separate means of transport, said Alison Felix, one of the authors of the report.

“Ride sharing is the draw and not as a complement to the public transport network,” she said.

That is not quite what Uber founder Theo Kalanick proposed in 2015 when he said, “We see a world in which there is not more traffic in Boston in five years.”

A study released in December showed that a large increase in the number of taxis and ride-sharing vehicles contribute to the slow traffic in Manhattan’s central business district. The recommended policies to prevent a further increase of the number of abandoned vehicles occupied only by the drivers to wait for the next trip.”

In San Francisco, a study released in June found that, on a typical weekday, the ride-hailing drivers, more than 170,000 vehicle trips, about 12 times the number of taxi trips and that the trips are concentrated in the densest and most congested parts of the city.

And a study released in October of more than 4,000 adults in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D. C., also to the conclusion that from 49 to 61 percent of the ride from travel would not have taken place at all — or instead, by walking, cycling or public transport — if the option didn’t exist.

The Boston research shows that the main reason why people are chosen for a ride-from the speed. Even with public transport passing by could drop it for a ride-came despite the higher cost.

Sarah Wu, a graduate student at the University of Boston, used Uber less than once per week but more often if they are the guests. She lives in the near of a metro-line, but opt for an Uber if it looks like public transport will be a hassle.

“I would rather have the Uber take me there directly, instead of multiple times, and waiting at a bus stop,” said Wu, who is not the owner of a car.

A spokesperson from Lyft emphasizes that the ride-hailing could reduce the number of personally owned cars on the roads.

“Lyft is focused on the creation of personal car ownership optional by more and more people to share a ride, helping to reduce car ownership, and the cooperation with the public transport,” the spokesman Adrian Durbin said in a statement.

Uber is a lot to wean drivers from their cars through the promotion of the carpooling services, spokeswoman Alix Anfang said.

“Uber’s long-term goal is to end the dependence on personal vehicles and a mix of public transport and services such as Uber,” Anfang said.

Uber new Express Pool left riders who want to travel to similar destinations. Riders walk a short distance to be picked up at a common location and are disposed in the vicinity of their final destination — essentially, how a bus or metro line functions.

The service was tested in November in San Francisco and Boston and has enough ridership to support it: 24 hours a day. Around-the-clock service was also rolled out last week in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, San Diego and Denver, with more cities to follow.

“This could be good for congestion if the vehicle caused occupancy rates to go up, but on the other hand, the Uber Pool rides and I think these Express travels really cheap, just a couple of dollars, so they will almost certainly draw the people away from public transport,” Wilson said. “Why get on a bus with 50 people if you can get in a car and maybe if you are lucky, you will be the only person in it?”

In a study released in October by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, as many as two-thirds of the transit users reported the use of ride-hailing companies.

A report released this month by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system, found ridership down disproportionately on weekends and during off-peak hours, in part the quote of the ride-coming travel.

The MBTA is focused on what it can be used for: pumping of money into new trains, buses and infrastructure improvements, spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

At least one study, there was no pin increased congestion on the services. Seattle-based company Inrix scoured data from 2012 to 2015, in London, and found the number of passenger cars, including Uber cars, remained the same or even slightly declined. Reasons for the increased congestion is included for an increase in the road construction and trucks off of online purchases.

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