Working Together to Move San Francisco

Recent reports claim that the growing popularity of rideshare in San Francisco must be increasing congestion in the city. The facts don’t support it.

Urban congestion is complex, and genuine investigations into its causes require extensive data and analysis. Luckily, several recent investigations have looked at this very issue. They’ve found rideshare platforms like Uber are not the source of congestion. Most notably, in the summer of 2015, New York City released a report which argued that Uber was not creating new trips at congested times and locations. The report found that economic growth, increased construction, and the growth of truck deliveries were behind speed slowdowns in Manhattan.

In the spring of 2016, INRIX, a global leader in measuring and understanding congestion in cities around the world, was commissioned to study the issue in London. Their findings broadly echoed the New York City report, concluding that Uber was not generating new trips at congested times and locations. In fact, despite Uber’s growth, total automobile travel into the Central Business District (CBD) of London has shrunk in recent years. The report identified increasing economic activity and significant construction and roadway work as the causes of growing congestion in London.

But we don’t want to simply avoid being a problem — we are working to be part of the solution. To that end, in 2014, we launched UberPOOL, our shared ride product. In 2016 alone, we’ve taken 16.7 million miles off the road in San Francisco by combining what would have been multiple Uber trips into one ride. We’re continuing to grow and improve on the product, and we’re excited about the future of shared mobility.

We’re not the only ones. A report conducted by the International Transport Forum, the transportation research arm of the OECD, produced a model of a future world where all trips are completed by a fleet of shared use vehicles. The predicted effects are remarkable. The miles driven would be 37% less than today, even during peak hours. What’s more, 95% less public space would be required for parking, freeing up room for public parks, broader sidewalks, and bicycle lanes.

These kind of results are possible if we work together. Today in the Bay Area, one of the most transit friendly regions of the country, more than two-thirds of all commutes are done by driving alone. We would welcome the opportunity to work with all interested parties to help solve the challenges the city and region are facing, something we’ve done with more than two dozen cities and states across the country. Over the past several years, we’ve been working with transit agencies and city governments to help residents get to and from transit stops more easily and eliminate the need for parking. We look forward to doing more as we work with cities across the world on an issue that impacts us all.

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