City leaders need to reckon with the reality that sometimes shared ride services are not part of the answer to urban congestion, argues transportation researcher Bruce Schaller.
Last week, the New York City Council took a big step toward stemming the traffic-clogging proliferation of Uber and Lyft vehicles, temporarily halting issuance of new vehicle licenses as well as authorizing a wage floor for ride-hailing service drivers. The historic bills, which Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law on Tuesday, signal that these companies can no longer run roughshod over legislative bodies in pursuit of growth and eventual profits.
But there has been pushback to the idea, contained in both the legislation and in my recent report, “The New Automobility,” that Uber and Lyft’s impact on big-city traffic needs to be contained. Some of this resistance comes, not unexpectedly, from the companies themselves, which strongly object to the moratorium while also accepting the wage-related provisions.
Perhaps more notable was criticism from other quarters. In a recent CityLab post, for example, Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase wrote that focusing on ride service growth “sets us up for failure” because Uber, Lyft, taxis and the like “account for just 1.7 percent of miles traveled by urban dwellers, while travel by personal cars accounts for 86 percent.” She calls for making “all shared modes of transit better and more attractive than driving alone.”
LYFT IS TESTINGsubscription models across the country, offering customers a package of rides for a flat, discounted fee. The packages promote Lyft loyalty and some bear a resemblance to transit passes.
One customer in the Boston area received an email on July 23 inviting the recipient to try Lyft’s All-Access Plan, which offers 30 standard rides worth up to $15 apiece for a flat fee of $299 a month. The user pays any ride cost greater than $15.
“Leave the car at home and save,” the Lyft email said. “We’re creating a new subscription plan to lock in 30 rides and you’ve been selected to test it first.”
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) kicked off a new season of anything-but-car travel Wednesday by approving funds for alternative transportation projects and accepting a plan to stretch this year’s “Car Free Day” into two days.
83% of U.S. adults drive a car at least several times a week
34% enjoy driving “a great deal”; 44% “a moderate amount”
Men drive more regularly than women and enjoy it more
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly all U.S. adults regularly drive a car or other vehicle, with 83% reporting they do so personally at least several times a week. This includes 64% who say they drive every day and 19% who do so most days in a week. Six percent of Americans drive a few times a month, 4% rarely drive and 6% never do. The most frequent drivers are men, adults with household incomes of $90,000 per year or more, college graduates, suburbanites, parents of children under 18, and those between 30 and 49 years of age.