There is no doubt that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are remaking how people get around major American cities. The growing availability of shared bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters is further changing the personal mobility story. The transformation is partly personal, offering a wealth of options for getting around town. It’s also supposed to be societal, ameliorating clogged traffic and boosting transit ridership.
The evidence for personal transformation is uncontested. But the societal benefits are less clear. How ride-hailing in particular is affecting vehicle use, traffic, and transit has been hotly debated. Research that I summarized in my report “The New Automobility” last summer showed that ride-hailing growth has led to more traffic and less transit use in major American cities—not the reverse that we all hoped for.