The empirical impact of Lyft and Uber on cities: congestion (especially downtown, especially during "surges"), overworked drivers

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Did anybody give a shit about taxi drivers before there was an app?


If we’re talking about congestion: there are, for example, 13,500 taxis in NYC (capped by law). There are currently 65,000 vehicles associated with Uber alone in NYC. (In terms of trips, Uber and Lyft together are doing almost twice as many trips as taxis are now in the city.) So it’s not like the situation is remotely like what it was before Uber and Lyft, in any respect.


In what way? Getting a taxi in Seattle before Uber was an expensive, frustrating waste of sometimes several hours. So I gave a shit because I didn’t want to drive drunk.

Or do you mean in terms of quality of life for drivers? Before Uber I honestly didn’t think about it and never heard it discussed. Uber’s initial success showed there was a problem with the old system. Then Uber went on to find new ways to mistreat drivers.

Or do you mean in some other way?

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No but they didn’t (and still don’t) care about hotel maids, au pairs, pizza delivery guys, and any number of low value labor performed by people for whom this represents a job of last resort.

All “disruption” has done so far is make the experience better for the consumers while continuing to exploit the labor pool.


Ah, but when the cars are driverless…something something override physics with a software update. Wait, did I just compose an Elon Musk tweet?


Actually, yes:


Is "awithnd " a word I should understand or simply a typo?

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probably supposed to be “and with”

Meh. Many of those using the cars either drove their own, or rented, though.

My own behaviour, post-Uber, is to either 1) zipcar or 2) rideshare when visiting cities. In the past I’d have rented a car. In my own cities, I never drive downtown, I Uber. So definitely no parking used, it’s just a question of how efficient those rideshares are being - if 10 people would have brought their cars downtown but didn’t, and were serviced by a single rideshare vehicle, is net congestion raised or lowered. Parking need is reduced for sure, but I think the on-street use is a different question.

Obviously parking usage is potentially reduced with rideshare (how many people are using rideshare rather than public transport being the determiner there, and public transport use is demonstrably down because of Uber/Lyft), but there’s no argument about congestion - ridesharing increases it. It’s the nature of hire cars - the vehicle isn’t just on the road from start to destination; it’s driving to your start and away from your destination as well. Unless those “10 people” are all riding in the car at the same time going to the same place, it’s increasing congestion. (Oh wait, 10 people sharing a vehicle going to the same locations would be public transport…)
So yeah, if you’re radically increasing the number of hire cars on the road, it’s unavoidably changing things.

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