A new study from Schaller Consulting is claiming that ride-hailing services, like Uber and Lyft, contributed to 94 million additional miles being driven on Seattle-area roads in 2017. We’ve heard similar claims in the past. Data-backed allegations typically revolve around the notion that app-based services don’t encourage motorists to carpool so much as they pull pedestrians away from public transportation.
Considering how difficult most subway systems and bus lines are to enjoy, that’s not hard to believe.
According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, area residents took 20 million rides (most of them from Lyft and Uber) last year. Bruce Schaller, an independent transportation consultant, took that figure and combined it with previously existing data and survey results from other metropolitan areas to arrive at the 94 million mile estimate.
Summarized by The Seattle Times and available in full at the consultation firm’s website, the issue is probably less pronounced in Washington’s biggest city. That’s down to the elevated popularity of public transportation that’s currently taking place. However, Seattle is the exception and not the rule. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that other major cities like New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago have all seen a major decline in mass transit over the last five years.
“Without public policy intervention, big American cities are likely to be overwhelmed with more automobility, more traffic and less transit,” Schaller said. “…and drained of the density and diversity which are indispensable to their economic and social well-being.”
None of this is new. In fact, we covered this issue extensively a few months ago. But it’s worth having another data set and analysis to draw from while these kinds of services continue to reshape our urban driving environments.