The increasing popularity of Uber has caused traffic in New York City to become even more congested. While the growing ride-share service has taken business away from taxis, it has also taken customers from buses and subways. This has led to an increased number of cars on the roads and, of course, more traffic.
This is particularly true during Manhattan’s evening rush hour on weekdays. It has been found that from 4pm onwards, Uber adds more cars to the roads than taxis lose. This has been found to remain true until at least 1am. The biggest change occurred between 4pm and 5pm, where Uber was found to increase traffic in the city by 4%.
On average, there are about 24,000 in the central business district of Manhattan during these hours. However, Uber believes that any increase in overall traffic that it is generating is minimal.
The general manager of Uber in New York City Josh Mohrer said, “As I was over the summer, I’m still skeptical this is having an impact on congestion in a material way. Uber is taking lots of cars off the road and will continue to do that.”
One possible reason why Uber begins to add more cars to the roads than taxis lose starting at 4pm is because taxi drivers often change shifts between 4pm and 5pm. The process of having to return to the garage to switch out drivers takes many cabs temporarily off the road. It’s very likely that many New Yorkers didn’t want to wait around for cabs during this time so they just switch over to Uber.
However, this doesn’t fully explain why Uber continues to add more cars than taxis in the subsequent hours of the day. The most likely explanation is that Uber customers are choosing to ride in a car over a bus or a subway. Still, if the traffic situation in New York continues to get worse, riders might not want to pay the extra money to be stuck in traffic, even if someone else is driving the car and honking their horn.