Pretty much everyone agrees that congestion has gotten worse in Manhattan and some nearby neighborhoods. Some people blame Uber and other e-hail services: about 2,000 new FHV licenses are being issued each month by the TLC. Others say it's more complicated: it depends on what people using Uber or Lyft would have done if they didn't use an e-hail service. (Also see this recent analysis of 2015 pickup data.)
Here's what does seem to be known so far:
- Taxi pickups have been declining: more than 14% in the CBD, and about 13% elsewhere
- From April to September 2014, Uber pickups increased by 82%; much of this was increase in non-Manhattan market share.
- The largest proportion of both Uber and taxi pickups are in the CBD. Uber: 76% in first half of 2014; 69% in first half of 2015 vs. Taxis: 62%
- Uber does proportionately more pickups in the outer boroughs than taxis. Uber: 22% in first half of 2014; 33% by July 2015 vs. Taxis: 14%.
- Uber is busiest between 5 PM and 6 PM, when taxi pixkups dip because of shift change. It's least busy on Sundays, when green cab rides peak.
- Both Uber and taxis are serving predominantly riders from higher-income households. In 2014 data, Uber outerborough pickups concentrated in Riverdale, Little Neck and College Point, while taxis dominated in northwestern Queens.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission has a lot of data on taxis; not so much on Uber. (Here's the short version (PDF); raw data here and here.) In late summer, the City and Uber seemed to agree to cooperate with a group of experts, the Technology Advisory Group, to study the impact of e-hail services, with Uber promising access to more operating data. But at MBP Gail Brewer's public hearing in mid-September, Uber representatives said a good congestion study would take a year. Now, Uber has hired its own consultant to do a study. And the City has hired a consultant whose report is due December 1. While we waiting for the experts to crunch data, tell us your story if you use Uber or another e-hail service:
(If you use a ride-share service like Via or UberPool, please comment Topic 2.3 - ride share services instead.)
► If you use Uber or another e-hail service, when? where? and why?
► If you weren't using an e-hail service, how would you be getting to your destination?
Whether or not e-hail services are taking business from taxis or public transit, another concern is whether they are adding to congestion (especially in the CBD) by cruising between jobs. Uber says it tells drivers not to cruise, and that drivers won't do it because it wastes gas. But so far, only Uber has the data to know for sure.
And this might be a no-win situation anyway for e-hail services: If drivers aren't cruising between pickups, are they taking up scarce legal street parking? or double-parking or waiting in loading zones?
► If you drive for Uber or another e-hail service, how much of your time is spent cruising? If you aren't cruising, where are you parking between pickups?