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Carpooling has only made NYC’s traffic suck more: study
July 25, 2018 2:19pm Updated July 25, 2018 | 2:19pm
Sharing isn’t caring after all.
App-based carpooling services like UberPool are only making New York’s traffic-clogged streets worse — because most people are using them instead of public transit or walking, according to a new study.
Not only have ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft clogged the city’s thoroughfares with their regular vehicles — which added 976 million miles of driving to Big Apple streets from 2013 to 2017 — their supposedly greener pool services are also contributing to the problem, traffic expert Bruce Schaller found.
“Even with high levels of shared trips, funneling travelers from space-efficient modes such as public transit, biking and walking, to space-hogging sedans, SUVs and minivans is not a productive strategy to speed traffic,” writes Schaller, a former deputy commissioner at the city’s Department of Transportation
Pool services add 2.6 new miles of driving for each mile of personal driving removed — only marginally less than the 2.8 miles added by regular Uber and Lyft rides, he concludes in the study, titled “The New Automobility: Lyft, Uber and the Future of American Cities.”
That’s because the cabbies still drive around while waiting for jobs, drive to pick up their customers, and at least part of each ride is spent only ferrying around a lone passenger, Schaller writes.
The companies promote themselves as alternatives to private car ownership, but in fact some 60 percent of ride-hail users in large cities would have taken public transit, walked, biked or just stayed home had the services not been available, the study found.
Even as Uber and its ilk have boomed, personal driving and car ownership has continued to outpace population growth, resulting in more vehicles on the road.
And although the companies are now adding bus-like pooling services with vehicles driving only between fixed points rather than going door-to-door, “these services are unlikely to draw people from their personal autos and will thus serve to add to traffic congestion,” Schaller writes.
To combat these trends, he recommends cities use congestion pricing, add more dedicated bus lanes and regulate the ride-hail industry more heavily.
Both Uber and Lyft have disputed Schaller’s findings.
“Just last year, over 250,000 Lyft passengers gave up their personal cars because of the availability of rideshare,” a spokeswoman told Crains.
Uber argued that it saved more than 315 million vehicle miles around the world in 2017 when riders moved to its pool service, according to the Washington Post — although Schaller’s study doesn’t dispute that pools save a few miles over solo trips.