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New Research Connects Land Use to Ride-Hailing Trips

Many of the places in Chicago generating the most ride-hailing trips with services like Uber and Lyft are accessible by transit, according to new research.
September 16, 2020, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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New research suggests people choose Uber and Lyft even where high quality transit options are available.
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Oriol Marquet, a researcher from the University of Barcelona, has published new research on the effect of land use at trip origin and destination on demand for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.

The paper, titled "Spatial distribution of ride-hailing trip demand and its association with walkability and neighborhood characteristics" and published recently by the journal Cities, examined records of 32 million ride-hailing trips in the city of Chicago to identify how land use determines the use of ride-hailing services. 

According to a Tweet posted by Marquet, the paper identifies "worrisome trends," namely, that "61% of ride-hailing trips are between highly walkable areas," and areas that offer more sustainable forms of travel. As put in the paper's abstract, "Ride-hailing is predominantly being used to travel between highly accessible areas which should be accessed using more sustainable transport modes."

The paper adds a land use angle to previous research that found evidence that many ride-hailing trips are being made at the expense of transit trips, as first revealed by a study performed by Regina Clewlow in October 2017, and contributing to a decline in transit use in urban areas

According to another Tweet by Marquet, "Ride hailing does not seem to be a viable alternative for low-income households or for those with no car access. This suggests that even at the currently heavily-subsidized low prices, Uber and Lyft cannot substitute for public transit in low-income areas." The trip data was generated between November 1, 2018 to June 28, 2019, so the research comes with the caveat that the data and findings reflect mode choices and trip generation in the time before coronavirus.

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