Study: Uber and Lyft Not Helping San Francisco’s Traffic Problems

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Wait a minute! Uber and Lyft were supposed to help with traffic problems, not compound them.

I bought into the idea that by relinquishing my chariot and hailing a rideshare, I was acting like a good citizen. I felt good about increasing the flow of traffic, while getting the opportunity to relieve my mind from the stresses of driving. Now I’m stressing.

  • Uber and Lyft held the promise of helping fight traffic

  • A study concludes ride-share companies are congestion culprits

  • Lyft and Uber need to re-strategize to stay relevant

In a report put out by research firm INRIX ranks published in the journal Science Advances, traffic in San Francisco increased by 60% between 2010-2016. Let that insane number sink in and then brace yourself again. Uber and Lyft were responsible for over 50% of that snarling mess of an increase.

Photo courtesy of: Noah Berger, Special To The Chronicle

Currently, ranked the eighth most congested city in the US, San Francisco has unfortunately always struggled in the traffic department. Uber and Lyft were born on the streets of San Francisco with the promise of solving part of the problem, at least. Ironic twist ? Or did we buy into a false narrative? No matter.

The study’s researchers took a look at travel times during congestion and free-flowing traffic. During high volume hours, getting to your destination took 62% longer, while speeds slowed by 13%. My already trying 40-minute commute just jumped to an hour and five minutes. In a simulated model where Uber and Lyft were taken off the city streets, delays increased by 22% and average speeds only dropped by 4%.

This study poses some scary numbers. In an already overextended and underfunded infrastructure, Uber and Lyft are pushing us closer to the brink of catastrophic traffic and losing our mind.

Certainly, Uber and Lyft offer the potential of contributing as a positive influence in our changing mobility needs. They just need to figure out how to effectively do that.

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