Uber, Lyft have opportunity to complement local transit networks

Posted on May 14, 2015 by Paul Mackie - Also by this author

We hear a lot about how Uber and Lyft are impacting traditional taxis, but what of their potential impact on public transit?

Tech-enabled ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft already appear to be acting as a complement to public transit. Uber analyzed its Los Angeles trip data to in this light. Over the course of a month, Uber found that 22 percent of trips taken near Metro stations took place during rush hour (between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday). This data could be telling us that people are using Uber like they might use bikeshare, as a last-mile and first-mile connection to transit.

Transit doesn’t serve certain areas well, or even at all. In such places, ride-hailing can make a public transit trip more attractive than driving by offering an easy connection between home and the transit system. Once the initial barrier is reduced, riders may find transit to be the best option.

On the other hand, ride-hailing could actually be stealing riders from transit. If the same trip can be completed in less time with an Uber or Lyft than using the Metro, some riders will choose the speedier option. However, at the moment, it is unlikely that hordes of people will abandon transit for ride-hailing simply because transit is still less expensive.

But, with the advent of Lyft Line and UberPool, that cost difference may become less of an issue. These services start to resemble traditional buses in that they are picking up and dropping off strangers along a route. While not exactly synonymous, one could see the development of higher capacity vehicles lowering cost and converging more and more with transit buses. The popularity of these services is clear. In the first two months of its service in San Francisco, one third of all Lyfts are Lyft Lines.

John Zimmer and Logan Green, co-founders of Lyft.
John Zimmer and Logan Green, co-founders of Lyft.
Photo: JD Lasica/Flickr

Do we have to worry about the imminent demise of public transit? By no means. But it would do transit agencies well to take a hint from some of the more enterprising traditional taxi operators: look at the incursion of new transportation options as a challenge to improve service. Reduce wait times, upgrade vehicles, and make travel more convenient by using technology like GPS tracking to display next bus and train arrivals.

Transit agencies should indeed be very excited about these new complementary transportation options to their own services. If ride-hailing companies can cut total vehicle trips in congested areas, they can work side-by-side with local officials and planners to improve the quality of life in places where Uber, Lyft, and public transit coexist.

(This story by Chris Plano was originally published by Mobility Lab.)

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

May 22, 2019

Tackling the complexities of managing a transit workforce

Here, we will dive into three areas that are more complex than they appear: Employee management, bidding, and pay.

May 8, 2019

Micromobility: The missing link between people and cities

Millennials and Generation Z alike are looking for homes and jobs in cities, where they can walk and take public transportation for daily life.

May 2, 2019

Meeting the mobility needs of America's aging population

Through no fault of their own, consumers of public transportation are like people who go into a restaurant, order a fine meal from the menu, and enjoy what the waiter or waitress places on the table.

April 17, 2019

Transportation Innovation Steers Mobility for All

In the U.S., we love our cars and prefer to drive alone. More than 90% of Americans owned personal automobiles in 2017, and 21% of families had more than three cars per household, says the U.S. Census Bureau.

April 1, 2019

Why freedom of mobility is at the center of dealing with the climate crisis

The single biggest driver of change in transportation in the coming years will undoubtedly be the impending climate catastrophe.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation