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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article23 April 20181 min read

Do ride-sharing apps cause or relieve congestion?

A recent study has attributed increased congestion in urban areas to ride-sharing apps - effectively shifting city travellers from collective passenger transport to cars. The study Empty Seats, by Bruce Schaller uses data from traffic patterns of ride-sharing in Manhattan, New York. In four years, ride-hailing fares increased by 81% percent, and currently outnumber the yellow cabs with a taxi licence by almost five. Ride-hailing cars spend around 45% of their time unused.

Jarrett Walker, a transport policy expert says that this increase of ride-sharing vehicles ‘is causing, not curing, congestion’ due to a preference for ride-hailing services at the expense of public transport. 

Data about ride-sharing drivers published in a study from Northeastern University demonstrated that they are mostly on the road at peak times. This becomes particularly problematic during rush hours. ‘The emerging consensus is that ride-sharing is increasing congestion,’ Christo Wilson of Northeastern University said to the Chicago Tribune earlier this year.

In the same article, ride sharing firms deny that they are the main cause of congestion, and say it is not their aim to compete with public transport. Road pricing and partnerships between public transport and ride-sharing are suggested as possible solutions.



Publication date
23 April 2018
  • Policy and research
  • International