The study looked at combined vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in September 2018 in six major metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. - Photo via Uber. 

The study looked at combined vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in September 2018 in six major metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

Photo via Uber. 

Decreasing traffic congestion has often been touted as the primary reason behind the use of ride-hailing apps. However, a new study, commissioned by ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft, found that ride-hailing vehicles actually increases traffic congestion in major cities.

The study looked at combined vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in September 2018 in six major metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. It revealed that ride-hailing vehicles' average VMT to be in the low single digits as a percentage when compared to overall vehicle traffic. 

In the Seattle area, Uber and Lyft rides made up 1.1% of VMT, the lowest percentage recorded in areas studies. At its highest in the San Francisco metro region, Uber and Lyft made up 2.7%. 

Metro region Other other VMT Uber, Lyft VMT
Boston 98% 2%
Chicago 98% 2%
LA 99% 1%
San Francisco 97% 3%
Seattle 99% 1%
Washington, DC 98% 2%


VMT numbers change when looking at metro region vs. core county.

For instance, while ride-hailing in the San Francisco metro area contributed 2.7% to total VMT, in core county, in made up nearly 13%. The gap is smaller in some areas, like Seattle, where VMT for the county increased to 1.9% on average.

Core rounty All other VMT Uber, Lyft VMT
Suffolk County (Boston) 92% 8%
Cook County (Chicago) 97% 3%
Los Angeles County (LA) 97% 3%
San Francisco County (SF) 87% 13%
King County (Seattle) 98% 2%
Washington, DC (City limits) 93% 7%

 

Among the reports findings was the revelation that on average, Uber and Lyft drivers spend the majority of their time driving without passengers in the vehicle.

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