In Boston’s Suffolk County about 1 in every 13 miles driven is driven for Uber or Lyft.
That’s just one of a slew of interesting pieces of information released by Fehr & Peers on how many miles ride-hailing cars travel. Vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, have been climbing in the United States since the economic recession of 2008. Many things have changed since then in the world of transportation, including the arrival and growth of ride-hailing services. This upward trend in miles traveled has meant an upward trend in vehicle emissions, including those that contribute to climate change. Initially there was some hope that ride hailing might actually curb VMT (a hope ride sharing companies were eager to promote), but this study (among others) shows that that has not happened.
The study shows the percent of VMT from ride-hailing companies for cities like Boston (8.5%), San Francisco (13.4%), and Washington D.C. (7.2%). “These numbers suggest that ride-hailing is hitting traffic harder in many cities than previously understood,” Laura Bliss writes for CityLab.
Data also shows that the traffic is most concentrated in regions that are well served by public transit. In some cases, a Lyft or Uber ride may entail more VMT than would a private vehicle—as much of the distance these vehicles travel is without a passenger. “On average, between the six cities, just 54 to 62 percent of the vehicle miles traveled by Lyfts and Ubers were with a rider in tow,” Bliss reports.