Do ridesharing apps reduce traffic congestion?
No, they make it worse.
Ridesharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, purport to ease traffic congestion by discouraging car ownership and encouraging carpooling. But the evidence says otherwise.
A growing body of research suggests that ridesharing is among the biggest contributors to traffic congestion in major cities. For example, some researchers estimated that ridesharing was responsible for tripling the increase in congestion in San Francisco. Another study estimates that Uber and Lyft together decreased daytime traffic speeds in Austin by more than 2 percent. A third study found that this increase in congestion was limited to the most compact urban areas, although these are precisely the areas seeking to reduce congestion the most.
But experts also caution overreacting to these results. The costs associated with increased traffic are probably offset by the overall economic value that ridesharing brings to its customers, so banning these platforms altogether is not a magic bullet.