Turns out that ridesharing causes traffic problems, who knew?

Perhaps some things were not meant to be disrupted?


Interesting article, but…

Bruce Schaller, a former NYC Department of Transportation official and expert* on New York City street traffic and the for-hire car industry, has a new report out on just how severely the rise of “transportation network companies” (or TNCs) has affected congestion. Using data from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, Schaller studied passenger trips, vehicle speeds, and mileage per hour of taxis and TNCs in Manhattan’s core business district from 2013 to 2017.

*paid, and if so by whom?

Please forgive my skepticism.

Don’t get me wrong, Uber and other ride-share giants present massive problems. But those problems are to do with their particular corporate excesses and not with the basic idea of ride-sharing.

I’m not saying this is necessarily wrong, just that I question the source of the data and the expert. I also wonder if it could be a problem particular to cities such as New York, where presumably a lot of people are ride-sharing instead of walking, something much less common in places like LA or Austin.


The question of whether it’s a problem or a zOMG problem! is out for study; but it seems hard to argue with the notion that any sort of taxi mechanism is going to increase congestion:

Aside from appealing to people who might otherwise take mass transit or walk, cabs have a rather pressing financial incentive to be on the road(rather than spending much of the day parked) and to collect and disgorge passengers wherever they can get away with it, which leads to a great deal of temporary double parking that slows down everything in the lanes adjacent to sidewalks.

This isn’t some magic property of ‘ridesharing’, conventional cabs have the same behavior; but when the cool disruptive element consisted of substantially increasing the number in service and lowering the price of trips, you would expect the effect to be more intense.


My head spins when ride hailing services are brought up. How many times does one has to have a meter turned off, a credit card reader broken after a trip, make a mid trip pass to an ATM, or have a yellow cab flash their available lights only drive past. With you in the car.

I road the bus for a decade. But often when it is a choice of fifteen minutes versus an hour, one starts to value their time. Let’s increase funding in mass transit, cut commute times, and increase reliability. Otherwise ride-sharing will win.


My point exactly. Not every city has the pedestrian or mass transit traffic of NYC, and many US cities have almost none. That in and of itself is a bad thing, but if the only material difference is that someone is going to pay someone else to taxi them instead of driving themselves and parking somewhere, then it’s not a congestion issue. Unless the taxis are driving/behaving in a different way than self-drivers, they aren’t going to change the outcome simply by replacing other low-occupancy (usually single-occupancy) vehicle traffic. The reason I find this particular study suspect is because it was commissioned by an agency that gets funded for regulating traditional taxis and limo services but lacks regulatory oversight of ride-sharing which the study singles out to the exclusions of traditional taxi services. If it were funded by the Transit Authority and included taxi services I’d been less suspicious of its conclusions.


Hard not to read this as just: “These streets were not designed for the non-wealthy to be able to afford frequent cheuffeured transport!” The scarcity of cabs has laways been artificial, and only nominally to control congestion. artificial scarcity combined with market-driven policy means only the wealthy can partake. In this case ridesharing isn’t the problem. The answer to congestion in dense urban centers is the same as it’s always been: get rid of ALL the cars.


Or, if that’s politically impossible as it unfortunately is in much of the US, at least put serious funding into mass transit like the rest of the developed world instead of just token budgets, at least as an interim solution.


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