Connect with us

Rideshare firms have snarled up San Francisco: study



The ride-hailing era ushered in by Uber and Lyft once promised to complement public transit, reduce car ownership and alleviate congestion.

But a new study on San Francisco has found the opposite may in fact be true: far from reducing traffic, the companies increased delays by 40 percent as commuters ditched buses or walking for mobile-app summoned rides.

Published Wednesday in Science Advances, the study went back to 2010, before the advent of so-called transportation network companies (TNCs), and compared journey times and road conditions with 2016, by which time they had become a common sighting.

San Francisco, where Lyft and Uber are headquartered, grew from 805,000 inhabitants to 876,000 during that period, as 150,000 jobs were added and the road network updated.

The authors, from the University of Kentucky and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), accounted for these changes via a computer model that asked: what would things look like if ride-hailing companies had not come on the scene?


Greg Erhardt, an assistant professor of engineering at the university, told AFP his team had found “some substitution” from private cars to TNCs as well as a slight increase in carpooling.

“But the net effect is that two-thirds of TNCs are new cars added to the roadway, that would otherwise not be present,” he said.

GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / JUSTIN SULLIVAN Morning commute traffic moves westbound on the western span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge September 8, 2009 in San Francisco, California

They also found that weekday vehicle hours of delay — defined as the difference in travel time in congested versus free-flow conditions –- increased by 62 percent between 2010 and 2016.


By contrast, in the simulated model without ride-hailing companies, delays went up by only 22 percent — meaning that the TNCs were responsible for 40 percent of the increase.

– Deadheading and disruption –

The findings were challenged by Lyft, which said the study had failed to account for increased freight and commercial deliveries — an area in which Amazon and others have aggressively expanded in recent years, as well as tourism growth.


“Lyft is actively working with cities on solutions backed by years of economic and engineering research, such as comprehensive congestion pricing and proven infrastructure investment,” the company said in a statement noting its investments in shared rides and bikes.

Uber called for more widespread congestion charging, arguing that “while studies disagree on causes for congestion, almost everyone agrees on the solution.”

The study came as thousands of rideshare drivers in major US cities staged a series strikes against pay and working conditions. It also came ahead of Uber’s keenly anticipated Wall Street debut. Lyft went public in March.


Proponents of ridesharing often use the argument that the majority of journeys take place at non-peak times, such as when people have gone for a night out and are returning home from bars.

But the study found peaks occurring at 7.00 am and 8.00 am and then again around 5.00 pm and 6.00 pm.

Among the cars’ most disruptive activities on traffic flow were curbside pickups and drop-offs, especially on major arterial roads, it found.


Another notable effect was so-called “deadheading,” which Erhardt explained as driving around in search of the next customer. “It doesn’t serve a purpose in terms of transporting a person. So that’s purely an addition to traffic.”

– Data scraping –

GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / SCOTT OLSON The study comes as rideshare drivers in major US cities were set to stage a series of strikes ahead of Uber’s keenly anticipated Wall Street debut

The study relied on background traffic speed from GPS data obtained from a commercial vendor, but when the researchers approached the companies to share their own trip data, they were denied access.


They were forced then to rely on a method of data scraping developed by Northeastern University that uses the companies’ public apps to learn about vehicle movements.

Elliot Martin, a research engineer at the University of California Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, who was not connected to the study, said its methodology was rigorous.

“I think that they did a good job of trying to draw comparisons, to look at what would have happened in a world where TNCs didn’t exist versus where they did exist,” he said, adding the methodology was the “best available” given the amount of information.


Despite the findings, ride-hailing isn’t all bad, said co-author Joe Castiglione of the SFCTA.

“They are providing services like helping people move around in the evening when transit isn’t great, or assisting the visually impaired,” he told AFP.

The trick, he said, was to determine “how (to) manage the positive benefits without the negative externalities” through new policies like congestion pricing or curbside regulation. Stephen Goldsmith, director of Data-Smart city solutions at Harvard, and the former mayor of Indianapolis, agreed.


“There’s no love lost today between most cities and Uber, but there’s a lot of customer loyalty, which makes it difficult for cities to cut back too much.”

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Cop says Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be shot following Trump’s racist targeting of The Squad



Following racist attacks on members of The Squad by President Donald Trump and his supporters, a police officer in Louisiana reportedly said that one of the congresswomen of color should be shot.

Trump has been lashing out at the four first-term congresswomen, who include Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

"A Gretna police officer posted a comment on his Facebook page this past week calling U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a 'vile idiot' who 'needs a round, and I don't mean the kind she used to serve,'" NOLA reported Saturday.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Internet piles on ABC reporter for lavishing praise on Trump for allowing press to ask questions



ABC News reporter Kyra Phillips on Saturday heaped praise on President Donald Trump for his treatment of the press.

Despite the White House no longer holding daily press briefings, Phillips praised the "access" she receives from the administration.

"No matter what your politics are, I have to say that I appreciate the access ?Trump? gives us on a regular basis and the ability to ask any question," she said.

She tagged Stephanie Grisham in her tweet, who is Trump's latest press secretary. She also tagged her husband, John Roberts, who does not work in the White House, but works for Fox News.

Continue Reading


‘Trump wants to start a race war’: Ex-advisor alleges his campaign planned ‘Send her Back’ chants



President Donald Trump is attempting to start a race war in America, a long-time advisor declared on MSNBC on Saturday evening.

Omarosa Manigault Newman was interviewed by Donny Deutsch on "Saturday Night Politics."

"You said could it happen here? It is happening here," Newman told Deutsch.

"As a woman of color watching him attack those four women, it made it very clear that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy," she said.

"And everyone has been kind of tiptoeing what this actually is. Donald Trump wants to start a race war in this country and it started at that rally — it started with the tweets," she said.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

Join Me. Try Raw Story Investigates for $1. Invest in Journalism. Escape Ads.