There has been a lot of talk recently surrounding the negatives of e-hailing and carsharing, as different columnists and authorities warn of an overwhelming increase of cars in cities, thanks to mobility services like e-hailing and ridesharing. At first, it was fairly straightforward that mobility services were the answer to the congestion problems we had been facing in our cities, although many now doubt this shift.
These ‘revolutionary’ transport systems were going to transform gridlocked cities into hyper-efficient settlements, appealing to younger generations who were not as interested in owning their own cars as those before them. This is a great alternative to existing transportation networks which were, and still are, dated and inefficient – not to mention the extreme cases of congestion in cities like London and New York. Mobility services would also significantly decrease the emissions in cities and, overall, increase the quality of life for inhabitants.
However, recent studies show that these new services are in fact causing the opposite effect, creating a negative outcome for traffic congestion, transit and active transportation. The reports show that younger people who did not have a car were using ridesharing apps instead of using public transport, walking or cycling which added more cars into an already packed city. This shows that mobility services are taking people off of trains, buses and trams, putting them into cars and adding to the traffic on the road. The main example of this is San Francisco – a pioneer of future mobility – which has over 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers who work in the area, adding an extra 37 minutes commute each day.
However, this growth cannot be entirely the fault of Uber and Lyft, as San Francisco’s business is booming, with an extra 140,000 jobs created just last year which will continue to add to the attractive lifestyle of the Bay Area. Generally, the growth of an area will do this, although I do agree with some of what people are saying.
I think the answer is somewhere in between. There is no doubt in my mind, mobility services will be the solution to congestion and pollution, but there also needs to be a collaborative effort with local authorities and governments to ensure that an entire ecosystem is supported and developed so that everyone living in the city can live better. By doing this, we can work towards removing the need for privatised vehicles and free up our cities as consumers become more attracted to the idea of using new public transport systems and mobility services.
Ride hailing has been in the firing line for some time now, from local taxi ranks to the public and it needs to be cut some slack. We need to look at the bigger picture of what future mobility can do to our cities, leading towards autonomous driving technology that will remove the need for a driver and give you more space to relax or be more productive… even if you are stuck in traffic!