A new study in New York City says the growth of the app-based ride services could work against cities’ goals of unclogging streets and reducing vehicle emissions, as well as potentially undermine other transportation options, such as public transit and taxi services.
In Seattle, where congestion ranks high worldwide, transportation officials say transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft may worsen traffic during commute hours, but they don’t have the specific data to tell. …
According to University of Washington professor and traffic expert Mark Hallenbeck, Seattle’s dense neighborhoods have more at stake in terms of how the app-based services clog roads. People in those areas rely more on the companies compared with those in the suburbs to evade parking hassles, for example.
“Ride-hailing apps have potential to add to congestion,” he said in an email, as well as contribute to less curb space in busy areas such as downtown when drivers are picking up or dropping off passengers. That “puts even more pressure on the city to figure out how to use the limited curb space they have.” …
According to the New York City study, ridership with TNCs there tripled between June 2015 and the fall of 2016, when 15 million passengers used the services per month.
“The secret to success in New York City over the last 20 years is the transit system’s ability to absorb the growth in travel from population and economic growth,” Bruce Schaller, a former senior official at the city’s Department of Transportation and the report’s author, told The New York Times. “If all that growth translated into more use of private cars or taxis and Ubers, it’s not a sustainable way to grow the city.” …
In the Seattle area, transit ridership actually increased last year, nearly doubling that of any other U.S. metro area, according to figures compiled by King County Metro Transit, using preliminary data from the Federal Transit Administration.
Compared with less dense places, such as the suburbs, the UW’s Hallenbeck said neighborhoods such as Seattle’s Capitol Hill, Ballard, downtown and Pioneer Square provide more opportunity for ride-hailing trips to take away from transit.
“This is a price for service question. How much are people willing to pay for a faster, more direct service?” he said in the email. “My understanding is that this (Seattle) has not been a very big market.”
But Hallenbeck believes it will grow when or if the quality of transit service declines, such as when buses become overcrowded like in New York City.