Feb 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

How Uber, Lyft made traffic worse

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.

Ride-sharing companies aren't the traffic solution they'd once hoped to be, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: "Multiple studies show that Uber and Lyft have pulled people away from buses, subways and walking, and that the apps add to the overall amount of driving in the U.S.," per the Journal.

  • "Officials in San Francisco, Chicago and New York have cited congestion as the main rationale for new fees they recently enacted on Lyft and Uber rides in each of the cities."

Why it matters: "Companies seeking rapid growth by reinventing the way we do things are delivering solutions that sometimes create their own problems."

By the numbers, from WSJ:

  • "About 40%: The share of time ride-hailing cars in California and New York City cruise without passengers."
  • "2.5 miles an hour: Average downtown San Francisco traffic speed slowdown due to ride-hailing apps between 2010 and 2016."
  • "309%: The rise in ride-hailing trips starting or ending in downtown Chicago between 2015 and 2018."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Uber and Lyft's rise may be fueling climate change

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new analysis provides the latest evidence that the explosive growth of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft is making it harder to fight CO2 emissions from transportation.

Driving the news: The Union of Concerned Scientists studied the triple-whammy of trips replacing climate-friendly transit, inducing new travel and "deadhead" miles — that is, when ride-hailing vehicles move without passengers.

Uber's next price experiment: Shifting rides outside city centers

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Uber will begin experimenting next week with a new pricing scheme in 10 U.S. cities aimed at shifting ride-hailing demand away from city centers — and making more off each ride that does originate in an urban core.

Why it matters: Uber, like its rival Lyft, is under pressure to show it can turn a profit, and drivers have long complained of falling or inconsistent earnings. The move could help address both concerns while also nodding to criticism that ride-sharing apps have exacerbated urban congestion.

Scoop: Lyft acquires cartop advertising startup Halo Cars

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Lyft has acquired Halo Cars, a small startup that lets ride-hailing drivers earn money via ad displays mounted atop their cars. Lyft confirmed the deal but declined to share any details.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing companies are increasingly eyeing additional ways to generate revenue, and Lyft rival Uber has been quietly testing a partnership with New York-based Cargo that gives it a cut of the advertising revenue, as I previously reported.