Ride-hailing’s effect on congestion has long been poorly understood, but a new study of TNCs in New York City, where they operate under a unique agreement that reports mileage data, shows Uber, Lyft, and others raising vehicle-miles traveled by 7 percent in some boroughs. Streetsblog NYC’s Charles Komanoff describes how the new data is reshaping previous assumptions regarding how ride-hailing fits within the city’s transportation system:
The app-based ride services were expected to confer an efficiency upgrade as they replaced taxi cruising (driving between fare trips) with swift arrival of the nearest available vehicle. Instead, deadheading is more prevalent with TNC’s, as Schaller found by painstakingly examining trip records available from the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Whereas taxi cruising tends to add seven to eight miles for each 10 miles of fare trips, the app-based vehicles tack on 12 to 13 miles. The difference is a big force-multiplier to gridlock.
The prospect of unconstrained growth in TNC traffic — and the concomitant worsening of gridlock and rise in emissions — lend new urgency to efforts to improve subway and bus performance.