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Uber's Impact on the New York Rush Hour

Researchers found a small uptick in Manhattan traffic during rush hour, as Uber gains more riders from 4 to 7 p.m. than taxis lose. Uber also holds general sway over the other boroughs when it comes to for-hire vehicles.
December 23, 2015, 2pm PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Throughout the year, many former taxi patrons in NYC have switched to Uber. "But is that shift in the city's transportation habits consistent all day long, or are there peak periods when the new ride-for-hire service is adding more trips to the streets than taxis are losing? In other words, is Uber making congestion worse at some hours of the day?"

Analysts from FiveThirtyEight examined traffic data to answer that question. Their findings: "In the morning, Uber did not add extra trips to the streets in the area known as the Manhattan core [...] But that picture changed in the evening rush hour, beginning at 4 p.m. During those hours, Uber added more trips than taxis lost." The effect, while consistent, was still quite small compared to overall vehicular traffic.

Rush hour travelers appeared to prefer Uber: "Uber pickups surged by more during that time than they did the rest of the day, while taxi pickups experienced their biggest drops." During the period of 4 to 5 p.m., it should be noted, taxi drivers often change shifts.

The researchers also found, predictably, that Uber has increased the number of for-hire vehicles on the road in the other four boroughs.

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Published on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 in FiveThirtyEight
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