Ride sharing has been a disruptive transport technology, going from obscurity to near ubiquity in a matter of a couple of years and having a significant impact on traditional taxi services.
The benefits touted by transportation network companies include better pricing, availability and fleet management and most times a better customer experience.
Various studies indicate that ride sharing has also resulted in city centre congestion, mainly because of the additional vehicles purchased primarily for ride share services. For example, travel times in the Golden Gate city increased by 62% between 2010 and 2016. There are 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in San Francisco, which is the birthplace of these companies.
The key player in this study was a team from the University of Kentucky. They took transport data and ran it through a travel forecasting tool using two calibration settings – one to simulate the transport mix as it was back in 2010 with no ride-sharing, and one to represent the way things are with Uber and Lyft.
One proposal currently being considered by the city of San Francisco involves congestion pricing. Congestion pricing looks at external costs associated with congestion and charges more for driving during peak periods or in heavy-traffic areas that are more prone to gridlock.
The transportation network companies actually support congestion pricing. It clearly affects them but also other drivers, and if it reduces the number of people in single-occupant vehicles, then it builds their market.
The author is freelance technology writer, Bob Emmerson.