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Research suggests Uber makes cities more congested, despite UberPool

A new report has challenged Uber's claims that its service has a positive impact on congestion levels in US cities, arguing that the service encourages people to take a private car when they would have otherwise used public transport.

The report (via the Washington Post) states that ‘Transportation Network Companies’ have doubled the use of for-hire ride services over the last half a decade and are still growing at a stunning rate.

However, while Uber would argue that this growth means that people are more likely to not own a car, this doesn’t actually appear to be the case. Car ownership is still on the rise in all large US cities, exceeding the rate of population growth, and the majority (60%) of journeys made through services like Uber actually replace public transport journeys rather than replacing journeys in a personal car.

This is true even of services like UberPool, which the report claims people use to replace public transport rather than private car usage.

Ultimately, the report concludes that offering decent public transportation is still a better way of reducing congestion in cities, despite the claims of ride-hailing services like Uber.

Congestion vs convenience

This is a US report, so there’s no way of knowing whether its findings apply in the UK. But it’s interesting to see Uber’s claims about its services, particularly UberPool, challenged.

After all, the service is very cheap, almost cheap enough in some instances to compete with public transportation options. Anecdotally, I haven’t bothered to take a night bus in years, opting instead to summon an Uber and deal with the slightly higher cost.

Sure, I don’t own a car, but living in central London makes car ownership an unreasonable prospect at the best of times.

But it’s difficult to know what the solution to this problem could be. Outright banning services like Uber seems extreme, but from looking at the numbers it’s hard to deny the impact services like it are having on traffic levels in the US.

Do you think services like Uber increase or lower the amount of traffic on the roads? Let us know @TrustedReviews. 

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