In Seattle alone, they accounted for an additional 94 million miles of driving last year.
Leave your car at home they said, use an on-demand transportation company for your commuting requirements instead. And that's what millions of people around the world have done, except that according to the Seattle Times, a study of nine major cities has shown that people are choosing these Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) even when they would have walked, used the bus or even just stayed at home. Bruce Schaller, an independent transportation consultant looked into the impacts of this trend and found that it accounted for an additional 94 million miles of driving in Seattle last year.
He went on to say that without public policy intervention, big American cities are likely to be overwhelmed with more automobility, more traffic and less transit; drained of the density and diversity which are indispensable to their economic and social well-being. Seattle is actually not as badly affected in this regard as some other big cities, yet even here the impact on traffic density by all TNCs, not just from the big players like Uber and Lyft, is estimated to keep putting an additional strain on the road networks.
While Uber did not contest the additional mileage claims, it highlighted that it only amounted to approximately two-day's worth of driving per year in the Seattle metro, a stat that does put things into perspective. It also pointed out other factors such as a booming economy that would adversely affect traffic congestion and setting a cap on TNC drivers in cities would not significantly improve the situation.
The one thing that we can be sure of is that there is more to this than just simply laying the blame on companies like Uber and Lyft. The way people get around big cities is changing and coming up with a sustainable transportation infrastructure is an essential step in ensuring things keep flowing along smoothly. Now where are those flying cars everyone keeps promising to release?