New Study Provides a Counter-Narrative for Ride-Hailing Companies

A new study finds evidence that ride-hailing trips are at least as efficient, and often more efficient, than private, personal automobile trips.

2 minute read

January 15, 2018, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Transportation Network Companies

Png Studio Photography / Shutterstock

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has released a new study that measures the "VMT Efficiency" of the transportation network company (TNC) Lyft. The results of the study counters an emerging body of evidence finding that TNCs add to automobile congestion and steal transit riders.

"Because they carry multiple passengers, ride-hailed cars contribute fewer miles per person to traffic than personal cars making equivalent trips," writes Carolyn Said to summarize the key finding of the study. The Rocky Mountain Institute used data provided by Lyft from the company's three largest U.S. markets (San Francisco, Chicago, and New York) to calculate the effect of TNCs for vehicle miles traveled (VMT). According to an article explaining the study on the RMI's website, the VMT Efficiency metric "is the ratio of the mileage a trip would take a person to drive to his or her destination using a personally owned vehicle (including distance traveled to find parking) to the total mileage it takes the TNC to drive a person to the same destination."

Said notes that the study did not "look at the critical question of how Lyft passengers would have gotten to their destination in the absence of ride-hailing — whether they would have walked, biked, taken public transit or driven," though RMI promises further study to tackle that question. Previous studies, most recently a prominent study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, have found that TNCs are most likely adding to congestion in cities by stealing riders away from public transit.

Friday, January 5, 2018 in San Francisco Chronicle

Large historic homes and white picket fences line a street.

The End of Single-Family Zoning in Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County is the latest jurisdiction in the country to effectively end single-family zoning.

March 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Amtrak Acela Express train passing through Harrison station in Newark, New Jersey

‘Train Daddy’ Andy Byford to Oversee Amtrak’s High-Speed Rail Efforts

Byford, who formerly ran NYC Transit and Transport for London, could bring renewed vigor to the agency’s plans to expand regional rail in the United States.

March 28, 2023 - StreetsBlog NYC

Buses in downtown Seattle on the dedicated 3rd Avenue bus lanes

Seattle Bus Lane Cameras Capture Over 100,000 Violations

An automated traffic enforcement pilot program caught drivers illegally using transit lanes more than 110,000 times in less than a year.

March 28, 2023 - Axios

View of Statue of Liberty with New York City skyline in background

Immigration Grows, Population Drops in Many U.S. Counties

International immigration to the country’s most populous areas tripled even as major metropolitan areas continued to lose population.

28 minutes ago - The New York Times

Detroit Sports Arena

$616 Million in Development Incentives Approved for District Detroit

The “Transformational Brownfield” incentives approved by the Detroit City Council for the $1.5 billion District Detroit still require approval by the state.

1 hour ago - Detroit Free Press

A red sign reads, “Welcome to New Canaan.”

Affordable Housing Development Rejected for Lack of Third Staircase in Connecticut

The New Canaan Planning Commission rejected a development proposal, including 31 below-market-rate apartments, for lack of a third staircase, among other reasons, at a time when advocates are pushing to relax two-staircase requirements.

2 hours ago - Stamford Advocate

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.