Is Uber Affecting New York Traffic?

16 Sep

Uber services picture

If you’ve been around New York City or spoken with someone who works there, then you’ve probably heard of Uber, the app based for hire vehicle (FHV) company  that has been causing a storm of controversy. Many people, including New York’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, accuses Uber of slowing traffic by up to 12%, though the estimations change pending on who you ask and what factors are considered. However, as of right now, no quantifiable evidence has been found to link Uber to the city’s congestion.

Increasing Congestion, Decreasing Speeds

Between 2010 and 2014 the average speed in New York City has dropped to 8.5 miles per hour, a wretchedly slow and still decreasing speed. Obviously, people are hoping for a solution to the problem. Many fingers are starting to point at Uber as the cause for the decrease. Since 2011 the company has added 18,000 affiliated cars to New York City streets. However, Uber is not the only FHV company out there, and several factors affect New York City traffic, including but not limited to pedestrians, bikes, private vehicles, and taxis.

Why Blame Uber?

A few things lead people to believe Uber is responsible for the worsening traffic congestion. Charles Komanoff used a complicated spreadsheet deemed the “Balanced Transportation Analyzer” to determine that FHVs could reduce speeds up to 6.7%. However, many people have noted the lack of quantifiable facts and measurable variables behind his proposed numbers.

On the other hand, a lot of factors point to an increase in congestion along with the introduction of Uber services in the city. As of right now, there is no viable causation between the two.

Uber’s Battle

Over the past weeks, de Blasio proposed freezing the number of FHVs in New York for a year into order to conduct a study to discover the underlying cause of the decreased average speed.  The proposal would have severely capped Uber’s growth and was shut down. In return, Uber has agreed to release numbers regarding its contribution to traffic congestion.

But Uber’s battles aren’t over yet. It is still being investigated for increasing the pollution in New York City as well as being considered for MTA contributions. Metropolitan Transportation Authority requires taxis to pay $0.50 per ride for subway and train funding, as well as $0.30 for wheelchair accessible taxis. FHVs are currently exempt, but there are plans to change this.

What Do New Yorkers Think?

Despite the fire under Uber services, only 47% of New Yorkers believe Uber increased the city’s congestion according to a Quinnipiac University conducted poll. Only 18% of voters believe capping or limiting Uber would solve the problem.

What Do YOU Think?

While no answer currently exists, one may be forthcoming in the next few months. Hopefully these observations not only uncover a culprit but open up doors for a solution to these increasing traffic problems.

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