TNCs began operating in dense metropolitan areas that were already subject to alarmingly high levels of air and noise pollution, as well as traffic congestion and conflicts over public space use. The question of their impacts on the volume of automobile traffic in those cities has hence emerged as a widely debated topic, and as a fundamental matter to address. Yet, much of the rare academic literature having flourished around the issue puts forward neither consensual conclusions nor robust scientific evidence regarding the effects of TNCs on Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) or Vehicle Kilometers Travelled (VKT).
The effects of TNCs on automobile traffic will vary according to which modes are being substituted. In addition to considering the VKT generated by TNC drivers, it thus seems important to analyze the influence of TNC use on mobility behavior, such as car ownership, in order to estimate, in turn, the impacts of those changes on traffic in a given area. In order to tackle this subject in Paris’ Metropolitan Region (Île-de-France), a study, commissioned by Uber France, was conducted by a consortium of experts: 6t-bureau de recherche the Paris Region Urban and Environmental Agency (Institut d’Aménagement et d’Urbanisme d’Île-de-France, (IAU-IDF)), the “Cities, Mobility and Transportation” research laboratory (Laboratoire Villes, Mobilité, Transports, LVMT) and Jean-Pierre Orfeuil.
The methodology deployed mainly relies on a survey of Uber users in Île-de-France (IDF), diffused by Uber in December 2017. 95 questions asked respondents about their mobility practices as well as their car equipment and, if applicable, the circumstances of car equipment reduction. After quality control, 1966 respondents who lived in the area of interest were kept for the analysis. The methodological apparatus, which also relied on data transmitted by Uber France and data from the 2010 Global Transportation Survey (EGT), aimed at:
- Isolating and quantifying the influence of Uber on household car ownership amongst Uber users in IDF
- Estimating VKT avoided by car equipment reduction
- Extrapolating the results to the 2.1 million Uber users in IDF
- Determining VKT generated by Uber drivers
- The study finds that 17% of Uber users’ households have gotten rid of (at least) one car since the diffusion of Uber in IDF. Alone, the services provided by Uber do not suffice to incite a household car-equipment reduction. However, the study finds that Uber played a major role, alongside other factors, in 25% of the cases where Uber users abandoned their (or one of their) household’s car.
- Uber’s determining role in some cases of household cars being abandoned corresponds to a daily avoidance of between 1.5 to 3 million VKT, which is equivalent to between 1.5% and 3% of VKT produced daily by the inhabitants of IDF using their personal cars on their region’s roads.
- During and between rides, Uber drivers generate 2.4 million kilometers per day in IDF, which corresponds to 2.4% of daily regional VKT.
- Subtracting avoided VKT to generated VKT, we find an overall impact of Uber on local VKT between -0.6% and +0.9%. According to this estimate, Uber would contribute either to a reduction or to an increase of regional VKT. In either direction, in 2017, the effects of Uber were equivalent to less than 1% of VKT in IDF, and may thus be referred to as marginal.
Full study report (in French) available on-demand at firstname.lastname@example.org
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