Falling transit ridership across big North American cities – including Toronto – has raised concern that Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services may be leeching passengers.
But a new study in the Journal of Urban Economics led by the University of Toronto’s Jonathan Hall suggests Uber is more of a complement than threat to most public transit agencies. He and his co-authors, Craig Palsson at Utah State University and Joseph Price at Brigham Young University, used American federal data on transit ridership for about 200 U.S. cities and towns where Uber has a presence, from New York City to Ames, Iowa.
They estimated Uber’s market penetration and took into account when it made its debut in each city to assess how it has affected ridership between 2000 and 2015.
What they found was that, in the average city, a standard increase in the intensity of Uber’s market penetration led to a 1.38-per-cent increase in ridership. “Uber’s effect on transit ridership grows slowly over time, increasing transit ridership by 5% after two years,” the researchers add.