Uber and Lyft Reveal Seattle-Area Trip Data

After a court battle, the two big transportation network companies finally released trip data, revealing rapid growth and a concentration of rides in the city's most congested areas.
November 6, 2018, 9am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Brian Minkoff

"The two ride-hailing giants [Uber and Lyft] provided more than 91,000 rides on an average day in the second quarter of this year, according to ridership reports the companies filed with the city, recently made publicly available for the first time," reports David Gutman. The state supreme court forced Uber and Lyft to release the data, and the companies finally did so in September

"While that’s just a fraction of daily travel in the Seattle region, Uber and Lyft trips are heavily concentrated in the city’s densest neighborhoods, where nearly 40,000 rides a day start in ZIP codes covering downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union and Capitol Hill," adds Gutman.

Gutman's conclusion based on this information: Uber and Lyft "are almost certainly contributing to worsening congestion."

Still, Seattle is one of the few cities in the country where transit ridership is increasing, so these findings do not show these transportation network companies (TNCs) poaching rides from public transit, as research has found in other cases. The findings do, however, echo recent analysis from San Francisco, which found TNCs adding 25 percent to the city's congestion. An earlier report by Schaller Consulting also estimated that TNCs had added 94 million additional vehicle moles to Seattle-area roads in 2017.

Gutman also details the history of Seattle's efforts to force Uber and Lyft to reveal their ridership data—a process that culminated in September of this year, shortly after Schaller Consulting revealed its analysis. Boston also requires publicly available trip data from TNCs. That city saw 96,000 TNC trips per day in 2017.

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Published on Monday, November 5, 2018 in The Seattle Times
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