How Lyft and Uber Can Make It Easier to be Car-free and Help Transit Agency Budgets


Two studies just out on the potential for Lyft, Uber and public transit working together for the public good. One from the from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC), which suggests that ride-sharing/ride-sourcing services don't take riders away from transit so much as they complement transit by serving different trip types — thereby helping to create "a robust network of choices that can help reduce household transportation costs, lessen congestion and GHG emissions, and make it possible to live well without a car," said Sharon Feigon, the principal study author and director of SUMC, a national nonprofit organization working to foster collaboration between transit and shared-use services. The other study, from the Brookings Institution, talks about the potential for these companies to serve seniors and people with disabilities. Very interesting findings from SUMC if you click below to read on.


Drawing from a wide variety of sources, including interviews with public officials, a survey of shared mobility users and a first-of-its-kind analysis of publicly available Uber data in seven cities, SUMC’s research includes several notable findings, such as:

  • Ridesourcing services are used most frequently for social trips between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., times when public transit runs infrequently or is not available. Meanwhile, transit is most in demand on weekdays during the morning and evening rush. It also appears that relatively few people use ridesourcing to commute on a regular basis, and that ridesourcing is more likely to substitute for automobile trips than public transit.
  • The more people use shared modes, the more likely they are to use public transit, own fewer cars, and spend less on transportation overall. Compared to survey respondents who had not used any shared modes beyond public transit, those who were experienced with new forms of shared mobility reported owning nearly half a car less—1.5 versus 1.05 cars per household. Vehicle ownership was even lower among those who used the widest variety of modes across all trip types. These “supersharers” reported owning only 0.72 cars per household and also claimed the greatest transportation cost savings.
  • As shared mobility continues to grow in significance, public entities should engage with the private sector to ensure that benefits are widely and equitably shared. Lower-income households have much to gain from wider availability of shared mobility. The option to drive rises with income, and at three times the rate of every other cohort, respondents in the analysis’s lowest-income group reported that if their top mode was not available, they simply would not make the trip.
  • Both the public and private sectors are eager to collaborate to improve paratransit service using emerging approaches and technology. While a number of regulatory and institutional hurdles complicate partnerships in this area, technology and business models from the shared mobility industry can help drive down costs, increase service availability and improve rider experience.


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