Same Old Song: Study Claims Uber and Lyft Increasing Congestion Problem in Seattle

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
same old song study claims uber and lyft increasing congestion problem in seattle

A new study from Schaller Consulting is claiming that ride-hailing services, like Uber and Lyft, contributed to 94 million additional miles being driven on Seattle-area roads in 2017. We’ve heard similar claims in the past. Data-backed allegations typically revolve around the notion that app-based services don’t encourage motorists to carpool so much as they pull pedestrians away from public transportation.

Considering how difficult most subway systems and bus lines are to enjoy, that’s not hard to believe.

According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, area residents took 20 million rides (most of them from Lyft and Uber) last year. Bruce Schaller, an independent transportation consultant, took that figure and combined it with previously existing data and survey results from other metropolitan areas to arrive at the 94 million mile estimate.

Summarized by The Seattle Times and available in full at the consultation firm’s website, the issue is probably less pronounced in Washington’s biggest city. That’s down to the elevated popularity of public transportation that’s currently taking place. However, Seattle is the exception and not the rule. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that other major cities like New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago have all seen a major decline in mass transit over the last five years.

“Without public policy intervention, big American cities are likely to be overwhelmed with more automobility, more traffic and less transit,” Schaller said. “…and drained of the density and diversity which are indispensable to their economic and social well-being.”

None of this is new. In fact, we covered this issue extensively a few months ago. But it’s worth having another data set and analysis to draw from while these kinds of services continue to reshape our urban driving environments.

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  • Ryanwm80 Ryanwm80 on Aug 22, 2018

    I was in Seattle for the World Naked Bike Ride on a Friday night and saw Lyft and Uber cars all over the streets. We left the science center around 10 pm, rode past all the bars in Belltown, up to Capitol Hill, through Volunteer Park, then the U-district, and over to Fremont - it was about 2 hours of riding around completely naked on bikes on a warm summer night, and the whole city was crawling with people out on the streets.- not sitting indoors watching TV - they were out and about, and so were all the Lyft and Uber drivers.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 22, 2018

    "“…and drained of the density and diversity which are indispensable to their economic and social well-being.”" Say what?

    • See 6 previous
    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Aug 22, 2018

      @28-Cars-Later People who think crowding and urban density are undesirable should probably choose to live in places other than the core of big cities. You can ride an Uber in Seattle all you want. No one is suggesting banning them. You just may have to wait a bit more in congestion, and may have lower priority than people using more space-efficient modes of transport.

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