There have been a couple of really interesting articles recently on the impact of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft have.

This CityLab article confirms some long-held suspicions that ‘rides-hailing’ companies like Uber and Lyft are ‘part of the problem’ and helping make congestion worse. The do this as they’re now making up a significant proportion of total vehicle travel in many of the cities they operate in. Even more worryingly, it seems that these trips make up a larger and larger proportion of traffic the closer to the city’s centre you get. Note: TNC stands for Transportation Network Company, shorthand for companies like Uber and Lyft.

…the industry is ‘fessing up. Today the ride-hailing giants released a joint analysis showing that their vehicles are responsible for significant portions of VMT in six major urban centers. Still, Uber and Lyft’s combined share is still vastly outstripped by personal vehicles. As Chris Pangilinan, Uber’s head of global policy for public transportation, wrote in a blog post accompanying the findings, “although TNCs are likely contributing to an increase in congestion, its scale is dwarfed by that of private cars and commercial traffic.”

Led by the respected transportation consultancy Fehr & Peers, the analysis provides a high-level view of the combined mileage contributions from Uber and Lyft, as a share of overall VMT, over a recent month in the Boston, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. areas. Results are shown at the level of the larger metropolitan landscape, which includes both the central city and its surrounding suburbs, as well as the level of the core county that contains the city’s most concentrated homes and jobs.

Here are some of the key findings:

So across the wider urban areas TNCs account for 1-3% of total vehicle miles travelled but much more in the central core areas. What’s more, this is compared to total travel and that won’t be evenly spread across the day. There doesn’t seem to be any info on the time of the day but I suspect we can probably assume the numbers are higher at peak times than they are off-peak, meaning an even greater impact on cities.

This isn’t the first study to highlight this issue, but it does seem to be getting bigger over time:

These numbers suggest that ride-hailing is hitting traffic harder in many cities than previously understood. For example, independent research by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority in 2017 showed that, as of fall 2016, TNCs generated about 6.5 percent of the county’s total VMT on weekdays, and 10 percent of weekends. And the agency found that the grown in ride-hailing was already a major contributor to noticeable slow-downs on San Francisco streets.

Now, the Fehr and Peers memo indicates that TNCs accounted for nearly twice the VMT in San Francisco than the SFCTA had estimated, said Gregory Erhardt, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Kentucky who has researched Uber and Lyft’s effects on public transit ridership. That means the services are likely delaying commuters more, too. “This difference may be due to the continued increase in TNC use over the intervening two years,” Erhardt said. “With nearly double the TNC VMT, we would expect the effect of TNCs on congestion to be much higher in 2018 than was estimated for 2016 conditions.”

Now just because a trip is taken in the back seat of another vehicle instead of on your own, wouldn’t necessarily mean more overall vehicle travel if we saw a pure replacement. The problem though is that much of the travel by these “TNCs” actually doesn’t even have a passenger in the back, as drivers travel between trips. This is terrible for ‘real’ vehicle occupancy levels, as if someone needs to drive 2 kilometres to pick up a passenger for a 5 km trip and then needs to travel another 3 km to pick up their next trip it means that they’ve actually drive 10 km to shift someone 5km – a vehicle occupancy of 0.5!

A bit of data now seems to indicate that 38-46% of distance driven is for journeys without a passenger.

The findings also answer a question that many transportation researchers have been keen to find out: How many TNC miles account for an actual passenger, versus an empty backseat? It might be even fewer than other researchers have guessed. On average, between the six cities, just 54 to 62 percent of the vehicle miles traveled by Lyfts and Ubers were with a rider in tow. A third of these miles involve drivers slogging around in between passengers (“deadheading,” in taxi-driver argot); 9 to 10 percent are drivers on their way to a pickup.

It’s funny now to think that companies like Uber and Lyft used to promote themselves as helping to fix traffic congestion and support a more efficient overall transport system. These claims seem laughable now and the companies are backing away from some of their earlier statements.

Meanwhile, it’s become harder for the companies to stand by their original traffic-taming claims. In 2018, Lyft collaborated with the Rocky Mountain Institute, a clean-energy think tank, to produce a study that concluded ride-hailing vehicles were “more efficient” than private cars in several cities. But after vociferous criticism, the claim that was later retracted. “We represented certain conclusions as definitive, when in fact they are not,” the Institute wrote. Now, Fehr and Peers write that their analysis should help both Uber and Lyft “form appropriate narratives for both internal and external communication.”

Anecdotally it seems like every third car in the city centre these days is a Prius with a red sticker on its door – indicating that it’s probably ferrying someone around or (nearly just as likely) on its way empty to pick up someone. This adds huge traffic to our roads.

Meanwhile, an article last month in The Guardian highlights the issue of relying on these companies to replace public transport, as opponents of PT sometimes suggest we do. It is also relevant for discussions about Auckland Transports under-performing ridesharing trial in Devonport.

In 2017, the town in Ontario, Canada, embarked on an ambitious – and, to its critics, fraught – experiment. It handed responsibility for public transit to the ride-sharing app Uber.

Instead of buses or trains plying regular routes, it is Uber’s roving cars that function as the transit fleet. When a rider opens the app, Innisfil Transit pops up as the cheapest option to travel between a network of popular areas called “hubs”, such as libraries, the recreation centre or municipal buildings.

The costs per ride vary, but on average passengers pay an average of CAD$5 (£3), with the city subsiding the rest. Trips outside subsidised areas receive a flat $6 discount.

Two years later, the Innisfil authorities argue that the project has been a success. Ridership is high – in 2018 there were 85,943 trips – and many residents have embraced the service.“We just absolutely love Uber. I take it, my son takes it, my dad takes it. I take it,” said Shannon Kelly-Robb, who works at one of the libraries.

But beyond the excitement of essentially having subsidised taxi service, experts paint a more troubling picture of questionable economic and environmental sustainability. The city has now spent more on Uber than the traditional transit option it was considering, and has dramatically increased the number of cars on its roads, with worrying implications for air quality and the climate crisis.

The issue here is one of scaling and that the more successful these services are, the more they cost cities to provide. By comparison, in general with traditional PT, the more that people use it the less it costs.

“If you operate a regular bus system, you have a much better idea of what those costs will look like five or 10 years from now,” said Christof Spieler, an urban planner and author of Trains, Buses, People. “But if you have a system with too many people using it, and you can’t afford to provide [the service], how will you handle that?”

In fact, the town has taken the extraordinary step of deterring people from using Uber too much, capping the number of rides a resident can take per month. For mall worker Arrega, who has been “working like crazy”, that often means exceeding the limit midway through the month, although the town allows riders to apply for an exemption. It has also increased the cost of a ride by $1.

Capping trips will have a much larger impact on those on low incomes or who aren’t able to drive. This is even more notable as for much of North America, although much less so in Canada, public transport is mainly seen as something poor people use. So if those groups are priced and capped out of the market it could have wider social impacts.

Finally, there remains a few large elephants in the room with these companies

What’s more, with the precarious finances of larger ride-sharing companies now well known, municipalities have yet another reason to worry.

“We know that Lyft and Uber are both losing massive amounts of money. We know they are both underpaying their drivers,” said Spieler. “If you’re doing this to save money, what insurance do you have that five years from now, it will still save you money?

In the meantime, Innisfil officials have openly mused about fixing some of the problems of Uber – by turning to Uber. The latest suggestion to the cost overruns? UberBus: a bus that runs a fixed route, just like a normal city bus.

One of the things I find interesting about many new transport technologies and ideas is that despite the promise of something new and revolutionary, they almost all seem to eventually evolve to look similar to something that already exists.

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66 comments

  1. Vehicle occupancy of 0.5! We’re heading for an average occupancy of below 1. Probably already are there once the chauffeur is discounted.

    No, carpooling is not going to fix traffic congestion. Traffic congestion is only fixed by restricting traffic and address access with alternatives.

    1. So from those figures in the six cities studied, it looks like the true occupancy is 0.54 to 0.62.

      The problem is – if someone measures occupancy in Auckland by seeing how many people are in the cars, this doesn’t show up, does it? Those trips will appear as above 1 on average, because of the driver.

      Similarly, for chauffeured trips. A parent taking a child to an activity with a sibling in the car, and returning home, has a true occupancy of 0.2. (5 person trips are completed to achieve one person trip) but appear as 2.5 (3 people in car on the way there, 2 people on the way back).

      The question I have is, how do we demand evidence-based decision making on the basis of this research? Because it matters, and society does have a higher right to minimise the damaging effects of a particular transport mode than the companies have to operate however they wish.

      1. Don’t quite agree with your maths on that one, to my mind the metric is useful trips/vehicle trips, the presence of the sibling won’t alter the vehicle capacity. This isn’t quite true for PT however as the sibling may occupy a space on the vehicle someone else could have used. As you point out the sibling does distort a simple headcount .

        1. So the true occupancy is 0.5 using your metric. OK. Compared to average apparent occupancy of 2.5. All for a trip that a good active network and urban form would make possible for the child to do independently.

          My point is that the apparent occupancy of 2.5 makes the trip look good from a carbon emissions perspective, whereas this is a trip that highlights our network failings.

        2. Nor was I meaning to imply there’d be a factor difference between apparent occupancy and true occupancy of 2.5 / 0.2 = 12.5, which is what my comment looks like when you read it! I was just meaning the factor difference is 5, so your point was correct. 🙂

  2. The finances of Uber, Lyft et al are dire because their business model is based on the assumption that self-driving cars are just around the corner and having to pay human drivers is just a stop-gap measure. However self-driving cars have been “just around the corner” for several years now. What happens to those companies if the technology they’ve based their business model on never eventuates? Will they just become glorified taxi companies?

    Obviously if self-driving cars do happen then it’ll be a disaster for vehicle occupancy rates and congestion in cities. But the solution to that is the same as the current best-practice solution to congestion: Congestion charging / road pricing.

    1. We often reach for really complicated incentives/disincentives when very simple pricing mechanisms will have the same or a better impact. Like subsidies/penalties on different types of cars when a carbon tax would penalise the gas guzzlers. Or a congestion charge helping fix congestion.

      1. I agree with Paul C, maybe a city centre surcharge on Uber, Taxi etc trips would discourage them. It might also raise some money for subsidising services in low density areas.

        1. You’re still thinking too complicated. A $5 charge for any vehicle to enter or leave a city centre cordon is far, far simpler and more effective.

          As an aside, the UK is really bad at these over targeted discounts. The congestion charge and low emissions charge in london excludes passenger transport (cabs and buses) even though they are most of the traffic and emit most of the pollution. You can also get rail discount cards for off peak travel if you are under 30, over 60, disabled, or on a benefit. Over 2/3 of people qualify. They could of course just discount it for everyone and save millions on beauracracy.

    2. Cause Uber, Lyft, etc are glorified taxis.

      Taxis, Uber, OLA, Lyft, etc including shuttle bus operators like SupperShuttle are ‘ride sharing’ services.

      Like with most technology products and services most of it is over hyped and fully autonomous vehicles is still at least 10-15 years away, as the current AI technology for autonomous driving is still primitive, as it can not handle the unpredictable nature of humans especially is density populated human settlements.

    3. To me, it seems unlikely Uber/Lyft will be able to eliminate human drivers on a large scale within the next 20 years, where autonomous cars have to share roads with human road users. You would think that investors would not tolerate the current burn rate for 20 years, though I tend to underestimate the foolishness of investors.

      That leaves them with a couple of paths to profitability. One is to keep on using VC-funded subsidies to achieve a monopoly, then try to hold onto the monopoly while raising prices substantially. Wiping out the competition is relatively easy, but holding onto the monopoly as prices rise is probably not, at least while drivers can drive for more than one company. So they’ll take steps to prevent that. Anti-trust action may be needed to stop them.

      Another path is to influence governments to get humans off the roads by law and in general modify urban environments to be autonomous-car friendly. Of course there would be an unholy alliance of drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and pretty much everyone else to resist that, but I fear that the money, hype and techno-inevitability mindset behind autonomous vehicles gives it a chance. It might be a good idea to start the resistance campaign early.

    1. I like the shared taxi concept on fixed routes. I remember the old stretched American cars in dolmuş service in Istanbul in the ’80s (now, alas, they’re much less romantic vans) and similar vehicles used in travels in rural Morocco. In both cases, the cars left when they were full and were an experience in themselves. Of course, waiting until a vehicle is full on urban routes is not going to please those who want to flag it down at the second stop, but there must be potential here. AT has tried a similar concept with their Devonport experiment without success; I would be interested to know what the locals there perceive as the barrier to using that as a means of transport. With decent occupancy, there’s no reason why a minibus service on fixed routes with a frequent “turn up and go” philosophy couldn’t be a useful adjunct to mainline buses, and the need for ride-sharing reduced.

      1. AS an addendum to this, and using the Devonport experience as a guide: the distance from Devonport to Stanley Point is about 3 km, so a round trip is 6 km. At around $2/km for a minibus and driver, total cost per round trip $12, which equates to just six single-zone HOP-card passengers per round trip to cover costs. The other side of the coin is that many of the trips will be “free” because they’re connecting to other PT at Devonport, but that’s surely the same argument that could be applied to almost any of the feeder services AT operates on the North Shore. I believe AT Local charges a higher fare than the bus, and it’s not part of the HOP system – maybe this is the real obstacle to its adoption?

  3. A couple of points though:
    – If everyone used ride hailing there wouldn’t be anywhere near the level of rush hour traffic as it would make no sense to have enough cars (and drivers if not automated) just for the peak. Ride hailing would need to be complemented by PT.
    – Ride hailing cars tend to be more environmentally friendly (e.g. Prius) than personal cars as the extra investment is worthwhile for the number of kms they do. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire ride hailing fleet was electric in 10 years while personal fleet was only at 20% or so.

  4. Even though they add to congestion, many people catch them because bus services in the CBD are so unreliable – services like the 105, 106, and Inner and City Link don’t turn up when they’re supposed to, so people get fed up and order Ubers for short distances. This of course compounds the problems with bus reliability in the CBD, but unless AT actually takes some steps to improve central city bus services, people will continue catching them for very short journeys to and from the CBD. Bus lanes should be extended and more priority measures adopted – quite easy things that should not be years away.

    1. Sam,
      Perhaps if there weren’t so may bloody uber taxis in the inner city buses might be able to keep to a timetable.

      1. That’s precisely my point. Buses can’t keep to timetable because there’s too many cars (and Ubers), but people also want to get places on time, so end up ordering an Uber because most of the time it’s quicker than the bus. If AT wants to improve bus reliability, buses actually need priority over cars. Most bus routes to and from the city are hopelessly unreliable because there are too many cars on those routes.

        1. It’s not just the cars, the volume of which is problematic, its the never-ending procession of traffic lit intersections and stops on that route.

          For example and based on maps the 105 has 9 stops from which it has to enter and emerge from (that is an issue in itself) and passes through 18 traffic light sets including pedestrian crossings before it even enters Richmond Rd from the city. I would take a very educated guess that none of the intersection lights is synchronised to enhance flow and some have mindlessly short phases. You simply cannot hold any vehicle to a timetable on the route that bus follows.

          Heres an idea. Light rail using its own lanes and platforms in the centre of the road and getting traffic light priority.

        2. But Waspman doesn’t light rail have to go through the same intersections as the buses? If it is mainly traffic light prioritisation you are proposing, then can that be done with the existing buses?

        3. David, read what I said. Buses have to pull over to the left to stops and then get back out again manoeuvring as they do at dead slow speed. The whole package is very time-consuming and every second adds up. And there will be no extreme left priority lanes, well not unless parking is removed on Ponsonby Road for example and good luck to you on that. LR is very space-efficient and running on their own road up the centre means no issues with getting back into traffic and queuing at lights etc.

          And if the LR takes up the centre of the road it will probably take 1.5 lanes except at stops whereas priority for buses is going to be a lane each plus still having to get into and out of stops.

          And then there is the speed or more to the point the acceleration which is beyond any of our buses. In short far more efficient than the ol’ bus system.

  5. That said, there will be some (who knows how many) that use Uber etc for final mile type journeys to connect with PT (I know I certainly have done this) without that option I simply would have just driven the whole thing myself rather than used PT.

    Also if people get rid of their car and mostly use PT then something like Uber needs to be an option for those times when PT doesn’t meet their needs.

    1. +1 its indispensable at 5 am trying to get from Castor Bay to Smales Farm to catch the SkyBus, to Catch the 7 am to Christchurch, and then back from Smales Farm to Castor Bay at 9 pm same day. Less convenient than a taxi to and from the airport but way better in PT terms.

    2. Agree totally. It can be part of a system where people don’t need to own a car.

      Early research shows that mass transit works best on a large scale and sucks at small trips (big buses basically empty over short trips are horribly inefficient)

      Modelling in London showed small electric vehicles capable of 15minute drive combined with heavy rail out performed any other combination of public transport for environmental impact, efficiency and uptake.

      If Uber, Lyft etc hang around long enough they could provide these small electric autonomous vehicles.

  6. What is this “ride-sharing” thingy and how does it differ from a taxi?
    It doesn’t! Uber is a taxi service, so why call them something else? Well it is trying to put a sheen of difference on something that is not different at all.
    And on the traffic situation: I stood at the bus stop on Custome Street yesterday and worked out that every fourth car that passed was an Uber – absolutely astounding.

    1. A few people are hung up on the term “ride sharing” . It came about because when they first started the idea was that it would be to facilitate carpool. The driver would already be going somewhere and would give someone a ride for extra cash.

      Now of course these days almost all services the drivers are only going to a destination in response to the rider requests. But the term has stuck and with the existing heavy regulation (and sometimes low reputation) around “taxis” companies like Uber are in no hurry to give up the term.

      As the Wikipedia page says:

      Despite multiple efforts to re-name the category, it still is commonly referred to as, “ridesharing.”

      1. We can change how we refer to it. We managed to stop using the word ‘xerox’ as a generic term, nd adopt ‘photocopy’. It’s important we do so; dropping the ridesharing term drops the associated implication that there’s an energy efficiency involved.

  7. Good article!

    It’s interesting to note that when Googling ‘Ride Share’ The likes of Uber and Lyft come to the top of the search. In 99% of the cases these aren’t Ride Shares at all. The occupant(s) are simply hiring a chauffeur with their own car.

    ‘Ride Shares’ need to be considered services like Arriva Click in Liverpool or Berl Konig (BVG) in Berlin and dare I say it AT Local in Devonport :s…..

    These need to be considered as part of the congestion debate… It seems to me that a vehicle carrying 8 people + a driver whilst not being a bus is infinitely more palatable than an Uber or a private car.

    The Devonport Trial has been really unfortunate for a number of reasons that I won’t go into. But I think planners need to think about how these ‘true Ride Shares’ can be incorporated into the transport network.

    For example, start charging a fair amount for the use of land at Park and Rides and Let an operator come in and start competing for first/last leg business against the P and R. Where the AT Local has gone wrong is that outside of those Peak Times these vehicles sit idle as they can’t then be redeployed to take Grannies to Bridge or young families to the pool…

    Then at night they switch to dealing with the going out crowd who will be more than happy in a lot of cases to share with others in exchange for a lower cost trip and a smaller footprint*

    *This footprint will be even smaller once a lot of these vehicles go EV.

    1. Yes, but they haven’t even got the basics of land use right around the stations, as you point out. Nor do we have a cycling network. Nor walkable suburbs with sufficient safety, crossings, lighting. And we’re still establishing a comprehensive bus network.

      Priority must be given to bringing forward these basics. Then we can look at if there is still a need for rideshare. Personally, I think it’ll be in very limited situations; those are the locations where commercial ridershare could operate. I doubt there’ll ever be a good case for subsidised rideshare.

      1. If the true cost of the underlying land value was recovered at P and R then there would be no need to subsidise the Ride Share.

        As it would comfortably compete. I’m not suggesting we do this. But it needs to be evaluated.

    2. Yes I think it’s all about getting the balance right. Somehow we need to regulate the numbers of each of these things & charge appropriately. A key thing is more bus priority then fixed route PT will actually work properly & be a good reliable alternative to ordering a taxi.

  8. Nothing surprising about what has happened in the US because London had experienced the same situation. Here’s what happened in December last year.
    “Uber, Addison Lee and other private hire taxi operators will no longer be exempt from paying the London congestion charge, the capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan has announced.

    Most drivers entering the city’s central zone pay £11.50 during the day on Monday to Friday.

    Private hire firms had been exempt from the congestion charge, but Transport for London (TfL) is seeking to cut down the number of vehicles on the capital’s roads after they surged in part due to burgeoning taxi apps.”

    Despite knowing this Auckland airport chose this year to open the airport up to Ubers. Remember last year that the roads were chronically gridlocked at peak travel times. Perhaps Auckland needs to seriously examine whether the benefits that these new operating models offer are outweighed by the negatives that they create?

  9. Same playbook in all cases operating there, as here.

    Privatise (or at least monetise) the public roads and socialise the costs.
    Same modus operandi and arguments that Bird, Lime et all use for e-scooters.

    We get similar arguments from Lyft/Uber and also Lime Bird i.e.
    We:
    “Provide a valuable alternative to private vehicle travel.”
    “Are a Last mile solution.”
    “Are more efficient than public transport”.
    “Have less empty running than taxis”.
    “Are cheaper than the alternatives”.

    Yet, when the data is examined (that is when these companies deign to share it with us, being private companies and all this is valuable competitive info they usually hide).

    We see that the Emperor in fact, as long suspected, actually has no clothes on at all.

    They are not cheaper, better or even more beneficial to the community.
    But one thing is clear. They provide a crutch to the local and central government planners and such to not do anything about addressing the underlying issues.

    Because they believe the garbage lines they are given about how good Uber etc are.
    And that they are the way of the future.

    Its time we kicked those “Uber etc – they’ve got to be good for you” beliefs into the rubbish tin where they belonged all along and get on with addressing the real issues with congestion and bus priority and basically doing what they’re paid to do and make hard choices required when they need to take space back from vehicles and parking.

    And not tinker round the edges with more or even, the same approach of unfettered TNCs doing what is good for them and their shareholders/profits.

      1. Oven-sharing was mentioned in the book Cranford. It’s a pretty old custom. You’d take your prepared dinner to the village oven to be cooked.

        1. Yeah in Kyrgyzstan i saw this with the village bakeries, you took your own dough and got the bread cooked.

  10. A train, or a bus preferably in a busway or bus lane, is a giant shared taxi/uber/lyft with high occupancy, low to minimal crashes for occupants. Minimal parking requirements, low emissions per person, supports high density, low cost per passenger. Scalable to large cities, reduce congestion, enables lower rates of car ownership, encourages some walking each day.

  11. I am wondering if Lime type scooters might get a lot bigger than we are thinking – esp if there is dedicated paths for them. For instance it would take 4 mins to go from K Road to the proposed Aotea Station on a Lime – but if you wanted to take the CRL train it would take around 15 mins with all the time getting down and up from the stations and waiting for a train. To go from K Road to Britomart would take about 6 mins plus traffic light stops if any. I doubt if any young people will ever bother with the train if there was a Lime sitting there. Even Mt Eden Station to Britomart is only 3 kms by Lime – 12 mins or so.

    1. Nice lot of red herrings you’re flogging there…

      The CRL is obviously about more than short range travel within the city centre.

      Something of an ideological anti public transport bent in your posts methinks.

      1. GK – not anti PT – just cant see the $4.4B (soon to be $5.4B) value in the CRL which will move so few people and not relieve traffic congestion. Despite all the people who have to pay for it being led by Goff and others that this will be the case.
        I presume you have never read the business case?

        1. People will take it for short journeys; especially say Britomart to K Rd, to Aotea to Mt Eden, but almost none of its value is calculated on such journeys; the CRL is much more about Henderson, Manukau City, New Lynn, Panmure, Papakura and Newmarket trips, etc, than any one or two stop wonders; though these will of course add useful additional fare income.

        2. *useful fare income; especially on a per km travelled basis, essentially that seat or space can be sold again and again when there are lots of short trips, which are charged by zone, rather by distance. Interestingly the Western Line exhibits by far the most intra line journeys, compared to the other lines, which deliver more end to end, or longer trips…

    2. You may well be right, this will likely please the rail operators as it will ensure there is sufficient capacity for people who are taking longer journeys.

    3. no way K Rd to Britomart would be 6 mins. I used to go mid-city to britomart and you’d be lucky to do it in 5.

      And who the hell takes a train to go one stop in a city centre.

      1. I will, for sure, along with the other thousands of people who currently use the city link. I used to live just by K Road and worked around Aotea area, so one stop on the train would have been perfect, there’s quite the hill there you know (I doubt a lime scooter could haul my husky frame up the top of Queen Street!).

  12. So if these taxi services are cannibalising active and PT modeshare and creating road space allocation headaches, we really need to sort this out before we start allocating too many drop off zones in our redesigned city and town centres. We need to get loading zones and drop off zones right, but that demands we get the modeshare right first.

  13. The Ubers of this world is a very clever idea but I don’t know if it’s sustainable. They have bypassed many regulations that traditional taxi firms must comply with, so much so taxis are becoming a bit of an endangered mode.

    I looked into this and it didn’t take much to see how all the risk is laid squarely at the feet of the drivers and little on the parent company and even then that loses money apparently. The driver must provide a car under 10 years old, must obtain their own P licence endorsement, medical for that endorsement, insurance/s, maintenance, tax, COF every 6 months, I assume some form of ACC levy, you name it. They are merely contractors and not employees and so things like holiday and sick pay never matter to the parent company. It is non-unionised so the power never lies with the driver. There is NO minimum wage. The rewards must be constantly calculated by Uber etc to ensure the driver never makes more than the barest minimum subsistence level and at a level that is just enough to keep them hanging in there, just, and I am completely comfortable that it relies on exploiting migrants to make it workable.

    It’s popular at the moment but they will have to lift fares if it is going to make it in the future and that will kill it.

    1. ‘must obtain their own P licence endorsement, medical for that endorsement, insurance/s, maintenance, tax, COF every 6 months, I assume some form of ACC levy, you name it. They are merely contractors and not employees and so things like holiday and sick pay never matter to the parent company.’

      This pretty much describes a taxi driver for many taxi companies.

    2. I agree completely, Waspman. I can’t believe the number of people who’ve adopted using uber as if it’s a sustainable choice used on a frequent basis. It’s simply ordering a chauffeur, and the cheaper prices indicate dodgy practices.

      Taxis were also visible. You could signal one, and although they rarely stopped, the driver would contact the head office, and a taxi would be sent. Something I did very rarely, but it was an option for when things turned to custard.

      Now, with so few easily spotted taxis around, and only ubers, this option has been lost. And yes, with a mobile phone you can order an uber. But when things turn to custard, sometimes an accompanying problem is that you don’t have a phone.

      This is the biggest problem thrown up by the experiment I’m having into living in Auckland without a mobile phone. With the loss of both our public telephone infrastructure and a comprehensive visible taxi network, we’ve lost a critical back up service.

      That leaves people vulnerable, especially at night.

    3. Why is Uber, OLA, etc clever ideas. I use IHail app for taxis in Auckland and other 15 other locations through out NZ and it does the same as using an Uber, OLA, etc apps.

    4. Uber lost $5.2 billion in Q2 2019. There must be a limit to how long they can sustain these sort of losses before the investors give them up as a bad job

  14. This article misses the point that low cost TNCs allow for non (or reduced) car ownership. Non car ownership is critical it increasing PT usage because the cost of traveling an extra mile in an Uber is CONSTANT while the cost of traveling an extra mile in a private vehicle tends towards zero.

    TNCs also underline the point that people value their time and PT travel times need to be competitive with vehicles travel times in moderate traffic for most people to use them at all.

    1. DaveN
      There is another major factor that makes ubers, taxis and private cars so attractive and that is that the drivers of these vehicles don’t pay for the total cost of the local roads. What would the situation look like if rate payers didn’t pay 30% of their rates to AT and AT had to find this money from somewhere: road user charges, congestion charges, whatever.
      I suspect in such a scenario that many might well trade a faster journey against extra cost.

  15. No suprises here. Already knew that. There a plenty of taxi operations through out NZ provides ridesharing services so what makes Uber, OLA etc any better, since they are glorified taxis?

  16. DaveN
    There is another major factor that makes ubers, taxis and private cars so attractive and that is that the drivers of these vehicles don’t pay for the total cost of the local roads. What would the situation look like if rate payers didn’t pay 30% of their rates to AT and AT had to find this money from somewhere: road user charges, congestion charges, whatever.
    I suspect in such a scenario that many might well trade a faster journey against extra cost.

  17. The best implementation of ride share I’ve experienced was in Rio de Janeiro. Every single ride I took had another passenger get out of the car as I got in, and when I reached my destination the next customer was ready to take my place. Total efficiency and 0km (0m!) of empty occupancy. Though the drivers there still weren’t happy with the high % cut that each ride share company takes.

    In general I am uncomfortable with using non-local ride share companies… Yet so thankful for how easy it is now to travel without language, cash or safety concerns. So there are those reasons to thank the disrupters for for shaking up the industry!

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