Building Sustainable Transportation — Together.
Over the past several years, new technologies have begun to alter urban transportation. Understandably, cities want to understand the impact that some of these new technologies are having. A study released today by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority argues that Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) are the main driver behind increased congestion, in part by drawing riders from public transportation.
Unfortunately, the study ignores the growth of tourism and urban freight deliveries since 2010, both key drivers of urban congestion, making it hard to accept its conclusions. Other peer reviewed research released recently argues that, overall, TNC adoption is actually helping grow transit ridership. And data from the same source used in the report show that congestion in San Francisco declined from 2016 to 2017, even as ridesharing grew significantly, calling into question the causal link reported by the authors.
While individual studies may disagree with one another, there is no disagreement on the path forward. Uber shares the objectives of major cities around the world: moving more people in fewer, more efficient cars, and, perhaps more importantly, getting people to give up cars altogether.
The most obvious example is our work with JUMP bikes. We’re already demonstrating success in getting people out of Uber vehicles and onto bikes. In San Francisco, Uber users who adopted JUMP bikes took 15% fewer car rides during peak hours. Our work on ExpressPOOL, where riders walk to their pickup point for shared rides, also helps ensure that every vehicle mile moves more riders than ever before.
But there’s only so much Uber can do on its own. The real answers to managing congestion are well known, but hard to implement: comprehensive congestion pricing (and other limits to car travel at congested times and locations), and greater investment in public transportation. The good news is that Uber is committed to putting its resources to work to partner with cities on implementing these policies.
We know that high quality transit is a better option than Uber in the dense core of cities, and we’ve said so. In New York, after the opening of the new Second Avenue Subway, riders switched from Uber to transit, confirming that view. We’ve called for more funding for transit agencies to upgrade systems to make them more competitive. Perhaps most consequentially, we’re actively campaigning for comprehensive congestion pricing schemes in cities like New York and Seattle that would charge all vehicles a fee to enter the congested urban core and use the revenue generated to fund transportation improvements.
Another area with a shared path forward is parking. Parking is enormously inefficient, consumes vast quantities of urban land, and occupies the majority of urban curb space. It also encourages more vehicle miles traveled. We’re excited to work to help cities make more productive use of their limited parking and curb space — and we just released a report to help. We welcome the opportunity to work with cities around the world on changing parking from dead space that encourages driving to more efficient land uses — including parks — that helps makes cities more sustainable and enjoyable for all.
Finally, data. We think cities should have easy access to road speed data to facilitate a conversation on proven solutions to congestion. That’s why just last month, we announced our intention to release street segment speed data, for free, on a shared data standard produced by the National Association of City Transportation Officials and SharedStreets.
There is broad agreement that shared mobility has the potential for enormous social benefit. Groups from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs to the OECD have demonstrated that if 100% of the trips on the road were shared, we’d experience dramatic declines in the overall number of vehicles; be able to accelerate a transition to electric mobility; and increase access to transportation while reducing its cost.
But 100% adoption of shared modes is far from today’s reality. In the US, services like Uber make up less than 1% of overall travel nationally, with a further 3% on public transportation. This daunting reality underscores a remarkable opportunity: the real growth proposition, for both Uber and public transit, lies in the 90%+ of travel currently undertaken by private automobile. So if you are a city looking to move from a car oriented present to a sustainable future — our message is simple: we want to work with you.