Ride share companies adding to NYC congestion

Whether you're an Uber, Gett, Juno or Lyft loyalist, safe to say most of us have used at least one of the myriad of apps to get around the city.

The industry has grown at breakneck speed with few signs of slowing down. In the last year and a half, the number of app based rides has more than tripled. In New York City alone, adding more than 600 million miles and, in the past four years, 50,000 more cars on the road.

That's a far different result from what was promised.  Uber said it would take "1 million cars off the road in New York City and help eliminate our city’s congestion problem for good."  Lyft promised reductions in carbon footprint from people driving alone.

Bruce Schaller of Schaller Consulting led what could be the most comprehensive study of its kind to date. His conclusion: the growth of rideshare apps has become unsustainable. He says this affects everyone, whether you use rideshare services or not.

The growth of on-demand ride services is also working to undercut the essential role of mass transit in absorbing growth in residents, workers and visitors. In the two decades before the arrival of ride share companies, transit served the growth in travel from new residents and workers throughout the city. That meant the city could grow sustainably -- without adding to congestion, slowing commerce, diluting air quality or adding to greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 2013, however, this picture has changed. Ride-share company ridership growth has accelerated at the same time that subway and bus ridership began to decline. As a result, rideshare companies are now the leading source of growth in non-auto (i.e., non-personal car) travel in New York City.

Just how big can the ride share bubble get? No one knows for sure but that is why Schaller says it's critical the city come up with solutions soon.

Uber and Lyft both responded to the study.

In a statement, a Lyft spokesperson said: "Lyft's goal is to displace private car ownership, not transit, walking or biking, and we have consistently worked with and supported increased investment for transit agencies."

An Uber rep says the company should not be blamed for the city's congestion, citing a past study funded by the city which found "congestion is primarily caused by construction and other economic activity and that e-dispatch transportation did not cause recent increases in congestion."