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The Ride-Hailing Effect: More Cars, More Trips, More Miles

A comprehensive survey in major U.S. cities finds Uber and Lyft aren’t living up to climate-friendly promises.
What's the trade-off?
What's the trade-off?Seth Wenig/AP

Ride-hailing: enemy or friend of public transportation? Climate change combatant or urban traffic snarler?

Years of emerging research has yielded a murky mix of answers to those questions since Uber hit the road in 2009. At various points, the main ride-hailing companies have alternated between actively promoting their services as weapons that destroy public transit and positioning them as something more like partners that help people access other modes. But a new working paper by U.C. Davis transportation researchers—which reflects perhaps the most comprehensive survey of ride-hailing use in U.S. cities—makes some clear indications: The likes of Uber and Lyft are adding car trips to city and suburban streets, and in many cases, cannibalizing transit.