By on March 19, 2019

2017 Toyota Corolla LE - Image: Toyota

Annoyed by the lack of passenger data available from ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, two researchers took matters into their own hands. Hoping to learn why people use ride-hailing apps to get around town, the authors of a study published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use joined forces, with one of the men volunteering to get behind the wheel of a 2015 Honda Civic on the mean streets of Denver, Colorado.

If Uber and Lyft wouldn’t share, maybe real, live passengers would.

The study wasn’t just conducted to get a breakdown of why people use ride-hailing apps; it also sought to discover just how the existence of the service might impact the need for parking infrastructure.

The authors, Alejandro Henao of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Wesley E. Marshall of University of Colorado Denver, discovered, in the fall of 2016, that ride-hailing does offset a great number of vehicles that would otherwise have been driven to their destination and parked. Not entirely shocking. In cities with less-than-ideal transit options, Uber or Lyft carry a greater proportion of people who use it as a second choice to driving their personal vehicle. Still, the study turned up a wealth of additional data.

To gleam this info from users, one of the authors signed up as both a Lyft and Uber driver, staggering the start of his shifts between urban and suburban areas. Customers were asked if they wanted to answer verbal or online questions. The response rate was 87.5 percent.

Of the ride-hailing customers polled in the Denver Metropolitan Area, 26.4 percent would have driven to their destination and parked there, were it not for the existence of the service. Some 22.2 percent would have taken transit instead, 12.2 percent wouldn’t have left the house at all, and 11.9 percent would have walked or biked. Another 9.6 percent would have taken a taxi. It’s no wonder there’s animosity between Uber drivers and taxi operators.

Of the surveyed passengers, 13.5 percent said the existence of ride-hailing means they now drive “a lot less,” while 19 percent said they drive “a bit less.” The 2.3 percent who, strangely, said ride-hailing makes them drive more were discovered to be ride-hailing drivers themselves.

But where were these passengers going? What’s the main motivator for using such a service? For the largest sub-group of ride-hailing customers, the top reason given for that particular trip was all about the bottle. Some 36.6 percent of passengers listed “going out/drinking.” In second place, at 20.7 percent of respondents, were those who feel parking at their destination will be too difficult or expensive (half of them were headed to the airport). Another 17.1 percent said they lacked a personal vehicle.

When asked, generally, why they use ride-hailing, 46.1 percent of customers fell into the going out/drinking category. A full third cited the cost and nuisance of parking at their destination. A lack of public transportation motivated 31.1 percent to call up an Uber or Lyft. “Cost” was the deciding factor for 29 percent of respondents.

(Interestingly, a recent study showed that replacing all personal vehicle trips with ride-hailing probably won’t save you any money.)

By driving around and hunting for a parking spot after dropping off each passenger, the study’s author calculated that, on average, passengers saved themselves 3.4 minutes that would otherwise have been spent hunting for a spot and walking to their destination. Saving time can be a great motivator for choosing a service.

While leaving parking spots empty is one side effect of ride-hailing, what about driveways? Of the respondents, 12.5 percent said their household owns fewer cars due to the existence of the service. Of that group, just under half still had access to a personal vehicle.

The authors’ takeaway is that, in light of the personal vehicle diversion rate brought about by ride-hailing, cities and businesses should reconsider parking requirements when constructing new infrastructure, thus freeing up urban land.

[Image: Toyota]

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15 Comments on “Booze Tops Motivation List in Firsthand Ride-hailing Study...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    Good deal , a win – win :

    Drunks don’t have to worry about mean old policemen and the rest of us ear safer on the roads….

    -Nate

  • avatar
    jatz

    AVs should be a hit with the puking class and spawn a side industry of chemicals and equipment for rapid clean-outs.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Denver seems a strange choice but then the authors are based there. I imagine San Francisco, NYC or Seattle would give a different mix. Untenable traffic and larger proportion of individuals who do not own vehicles in locations like that.

    Personally in San Francisco I just park my car where I am staying and use ridesharing exclusively to get around that city. Traffic and non existent parking at most destinations in SF make that a simple choice. Over the last decade most streets have been redesigned to favor buses and bicycles over personal vehicles.

  • avatar
    mikey

    a B.A.C of .05 or over will by you a 3 day suspension for the first offence . There’s that, and then the 10% premium on your insurance for three years. Blow .08 or over in Ontario , and you can say good bye to $50 K.

    Three ,or four beers hardly puts me in the chronic drunk category . It does put me into an UBER.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Drunk in Denver? Take an Uber!

  • avatar
    Proud2BUnion

    I’m surprised tourist in town didn’t make the list. That is the only reason I ever use a ride share service.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yeah duh.

      I’m in Washington DC this week advocating (re: lobbying) for education. I’m not renting a car to drive from Reagan to the hotel and then pay to have the GD valet park it. Walk from hotel to lunch and dinner (cept tonight) and Lyft my way everywhere else. Still come out ahead financially.

      Being tipsy after dinner tonight will be a symptom not a cause of my ride hailing use.

  • avatar
    redapple

    0.05% is B S.
    The Govt is trying to make you fear a smash down.
    A tactic they use to make you fear the GOVT landing on you hard like the Roger Stone raid with 20 swat officers in full riot gear.
    No basis in reality. (yeah you can find the 2 studies funded my MADD)
    I can fly a plane LEGALLY just under 0.04.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      I’ll buy the booze for your pity party for Stone. Shouldn’t cost much.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        You don’t have to like Stone or Trump to think that a SWAT team raid in collaboration with CNN was a disproportionate exercise for what Stone stands accused of. Maybe there’s a relationship between not liking those guys and embracing totalitarian terrorism by an unelected bureaucracy. Maybe.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    Should we thank the foreign venture capitalists for letting Uber burn their money to keep fares cheap? Or does it just mean that taking Uber instead of a taxi gives a 20-something drunkard enough money to buy 9 beers instead of 7?

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      I have used both taxis and uber/lyft over the past years

      With rideshare

      A clean vehicle shows up on time
      Never any attitude from the driver
      I know what the price will be before I step in the vehicle
      no cash or cc changes hands

      Can’t say the same for many of my taxi experiences

      And as far as I know the rideshare driver screening and insurance coverage is at least as good as a taxi service. Google the SF taxi service that carried minimal required insurance on their vehicles and were unable to cover cost for an injured passenger

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I took taxis to work in Manhattan every day for about a year and a half. My best taxi trip was roughly on a par with my worst Uber ride. It does seem like the part-time Uber and Lyft drivers who lived right in my neighborhood have been replaced by cologne-drenched members of the under-class, but the service is still better and the vehicles are still cleaner. The only thing worse than a taxi ride is using public transportation.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It’s probably 90% of the reason I use an Uber when I do. It’s a win-win for society, restaurants/ bars, and people that want to have a good time.

    But I bet secretly local governments HATE that they don’t get to nail as many people for DUI as it was largely all about the money/power and very little about public safety. I have no problem going hard after really drunk drivers, It’s the MADD zero tolerance levels that are basically trying to ruin someone’s life over any alcohol consumption.


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