Convenient services like Uber exacerbate traffic jams, taking passengers away from public transport

Published on February 27, 2018

Convenient services like Uber exacerbate traffic jams, taking passengers away from public transport

    Taxi services of a new generation, such as Uber and Yandex.Taxi, are much cheaper and more convenient than conventional dispatching offices that used to take orders by phone. Now you can know in advance the exact cost of the trip, see the route, drop off a friend along the way and share the payment with him, pay directly from the phone, etc. In general, a taxi has become really convenient. And cheaper.

    Since its inception, Uber and other similar services have promised not only low prices and convenience, but also reducetraffic jams. They argued that some motorists would refuse personal transport in favor of a convenient and cheap taxi, where you don’t need to turn the steering wheel yourself in a tense pose with a full concentration of attention. Unfortunately, harsh statistics convincingly indicate the opposite: in those cities where the new generation taxi services started operating, traffic jams increased .

    As several studies have shown, for some reason, motorists did not transfer to a taxi. But those who relocated are cyclists, pedestrians and public transport passengers .

    As part of a four-week study in Boston, at the end of 2017, 944 ride-hailing taxi passengers were interviewed. About 60% of them said that they would go by public transport, bicycle, go on foot or cancel the trip altogether if the application for an online taxi call were not at hand.

    This study also showed that the vast majority of passengers do not use a taxi to get to the nearest metro station or bus stop, but prefer to ride it to the very end of the route.

    Probably, initially cheap taxi services did not plan to compete with public transport, but wanted to supplement it - mainly on such routes that the metro and other OT do not go to. It turns out the other way around. Taxi services are de facto increasingly competing with public transport. It's funny that just recently, Uber launched the Express Pool cheap ridesharing service , where passengers who follow the same route get into the same car at stops . Here the analogy with public transport becomes quite obvious.

    What is most surprising, the deterioration of traffic is beneficial for operators such as Uber , because in such conditions they increase the tariff coefficient.

    Obviously, this is not the future that the founder of Uber, Travis Kalanik, promised. In 2015, he said: “We imagine a world where there will be no more traffic jams in Boston in five years.” The reality turned out to be completely different.

    Another study from December 2017 found that the slowdown in traffic in Manhattan was partially due to an increase in the number of taxi cars and ride-hailing services. The authors recommended that the authorities take measures to prevent a further increase in the number of cars with empty salons and one driver behind the wheel on the roads.

    A June study in San Francisco found that on a typical business day, online taxi services make about 170,000 trips. This is about 12 times more than conventional taxis - and these trips are concentrated in the densest and most traffic-loaded areas of the city.

    Finally, another survey of residents of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, the suburbs of San Francisco, Washington and Seattle showed that from 49% to 61% of trips could not take place at all if there were no option to call cheap and convenient taxi from a smartphone. All of these passengers would travel by public transport, bicycles, or go on foot.

    Other results of passenger polls highlighted the obvious reasons why people choose a taxi, even if it costs more than public transport. Of course, the main reason is to save time. No need to stop at stops and transfer to other routes. Some, for this reason, call a taxi even if they live right next to the metro station.

    Scientists put forward various proposals on how to deal with the dominance of cars in cities and with traffic jams. One option is to narrow the roads and reduce the number of lanes , instead increasing the number of paid parking lots, planting trees and laying bike paths in the vacant space.