Impact of Uber on Public Transit

Uber and Lyft have become ubiquitous forms of modern day transportation; leaving many to wonder the effect on existing public transportation. These ridehailing services have already disrupted the Taxi industry often providing significant benefit of lower prices, faster access, and door to door service. In a newly published study, Yash Babar seeks to answer two major questions:

  • How does access to ridehailing services affect  the use of different public transit  services?
  • How does  this  impact  vary  according  to the  quality  of  available  transit?

The authors use data in each city Uber entered to look  at the effect on aggregate public transportation.  They find that “ridehailing services can have a positive impact on the use of long-distance public transit services and modes that maintain distinct rights of way, such as Commuter Rail and Subway. At the same time, we find that access to ridehailing services reduces the utilization of short distance public transit, namely the city bus.”

The authors also note that cities with “higher quality transit systems generally stand to benefit more ( or suffer less) from the arrival of ridehailing services. Our analyses even go so far as to suggest that ridehailing services may complement City Bus services if said bus service operate frequent routes, is easily accessible and is well maintained.”

The authors conclude that as technology continues to improve, including driverless cars, ridehailing services will grow and it is paramount that transit agencies and policy-makers respond proactively seeking opportunities to strategically partner with ridehailing services, instead of simply viewing them as a threat.

The study, Examining the Impact of Ridehailing Services on Public Transit Use, was co-authored by Gordon Burtch.

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