Uber & Lyft as a source of congestion

stellarfun

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
Messages
4,753
Reaction score
58
San Francisco, home base to both Uber and Lyft, is experiencing some of its worst traffic in years — research firm INRIX ranks it the eighth most congested city in the US — and much of it is due to the rising popularity of transportation network companies (TNC, an industry term used to describe ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft). How bad is it? According to today’s study, between 2010 and 2016 traffic congestion in San Francisco increased by about 60 percent — and Uber and Lyft are responsible for more than half of that increase.
https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/8/18535627/uber-lyft-sf-traffic-congestion-increase-study

Reference in the article to the source, which is a paper published in Science Advances, a peer-reviewed journal.

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/5/eaau2670
 

Lrfox

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2006
Messages
2,542
Reaction score
49
https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/8/18535627/uber-lyft-sf-traffic-congestion-increase-study

Reference in the article to the source, which is a paper published in Science Advances, a peer-reviewed journal.

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/5/eaau2670
There are a lot of ways to interpret that information, but one of the key takeaways for me is that our mass transit networks aren't even adequate enough to lure people out of cars in spite of astronomically bad traffic.
 

C-Town_Jeff

New member
Joined
Jul 10, 2018
Messages
14
Reaction score
6
They are moving the Uber and Lyft to Central Parking for all terminals. They will still allow you to do curbside drop off and pick up if you self identify in the app that you have a disability.

What constitutes a disability? Is traveling with kids in a car seat count as a disability for the purposes of curbside?

 

George_Apley

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,015
Reaction score
291
I don't know how that feature works for the various ride-shares, but I'd guess that it's a setting that applies to your profile, not something you choose at the time of the ride.
 

sm89

Active Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2014
Messages
863
Reaction score
8
In the article, Mehigan calls out able-bodied people using the handicap stall in the restroom as abuse of the system. Interesting.
 

JeffDowntown

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
2,874
Reaction score
48
In the article, Mehigan calls out able-bodied people using the handicap stall in the restroom as abuse of the system. Interesting.
By whatever math is ordained by regulations handicap accessible "____ fill in the blank" seem way unders used in our society.

The idea that a under used handicap accessible stall in a bathroom cannot be used by an able bodied person is insane (ever been to a busy public event?). (Obviously checking to be sure there is not a handicapped person waiting for that facility!)

Also, in smaller venues EVERY STALL IS HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE. So what, able bodied peeps cannot go?
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
6,977
Reaction score
150
There are a lot of ways to interpret that information, but one of the key takeaways for me is that our mass transit networks aren't even adequate enough to lure people out of cars in spite of astronomically bad traffic.
LrFox -- NO -- You are missing the essential nugget -- For a given "Level of Discomfort" in traveling from place to place -- many people would prefer to be their own masters than just to be a "prole"
That's why the automobile has blown away all the other mechanized transport planet-wide

The key is how to define the "Level of Discomfort" -- it is obviously a complex construct as some value privacy over efficiency, some value convenience over economy, etc.

However -- I'll give you an example based on my own experience today

I was given the opportunity to attend a private tour of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum with some members of the Museum of Science Volunteers Association Board of Directors
The requirement which I needed to not violate was to be at the entrance of the ISG Museum at 11:00 AM precisely [well it turned out not to matter as much as I had been told as we waited for a late comer -- but that could not be known in advance.

My options:
  • A -- Drive to the MOS and Park -- take the Green Line from Science Park to MFA and walk -- that was my original plan -- estimated total time 1 hr 30 min -- need to depart no later than 9:30 AM -- low risk low cost
  • B -- Drive to Alewife and look for a parking spot -- take the Red Line to Park then change to the Green Line and once on the Green Line -- E branch -- follow A -- estimated total time 1 hr [assuming that there was a parking space] -- medium risk, medium cost
  • C -- Drive to the MFA and park in the lot or the garage at the Members Rate then walk approximately same amount as A or B -- estimated total time 30 to 45 minutes -- low risk -- maximum cost
  • D -- Drive to the MFA area and search for parking on the street then walk some distance possibly more than for A, B, or C -- estimated total time 30 to 45 minutes -- medium risk -- medium cost
  • D* -- the same as D and if failing to find parking -- drive back to the MFA and execute C -- estimated total time 30 minutes to 1 hour -- medium risk -- medium to high cost

My original idea was Plan A - -max travel via the T combined with driving to the MOS -- required the earliest departure from my house
However -- I was late in getting started --- couldn't leave the house until 9:50 AM so Plan A was no longer an option
Given the state of reconstruction of Alewife and the need to change at Park -- I reassessed the time risk component of Plan B and abandoned the T all together
I went for Plan D knowing I could still bail to D*
Traffic in Cambridge before I got to Storrow Dr -- increased the risk of D-D* and I thought of executing Plan C
I ended up circling the MFA 2 times before a finding a spot on the street near the old Forsythe Building --Therefore successfully executing Plan D
Total cost [there was even time on the meter] was $3 and a bit longer walk -- arriving just at 11:03 AM -- however as it turned out I could have arrived at 11:20 as did our latest attendee

So -- While I had the intention of the Green T combined with [low cost parking at the MOS where I volunteer] -- ended up with the reliable automobile solution -- as it offered the highest degree of adaptability

Note that even in the case of taking the Red Line from Alewife - - I could not chance taking a bus to Alewife despite the fact that it stops at the bottom of my hill --- due to the extra time it would impose and more importantly the increased time risk

That in a Nutshell is why a lot of people drive, or take an Uber / Taxi/Limo or have a friend drive them to/from Logan -- lowered risk of "We're sorry that the X-Line is currently experiencing delays due to XXXYYYZZZ"] and increased sense of control / flexibility that you have being able to reroute at the last moment. Note that for ordinary commuting -- many of the same people would take the T -- at least most of the time
 
Last edited:

C-Town_Jeff

New member
Joined
Jul 10, 2018
Messages
14
Reaction score
6
Has a study even been done specifically for Logan regarding Lyft and Uber? Can MassPort even prove that ride share is causing the congestion? How many of the people using Lyft and Uber would have gotten a ride from a friend, taken a taxi, or driven and parked at the airport?

I suspect that a large portion of the ride share passengers would have taken a taxi or parked on site at the airport., which is impacting MassPort revenue. I haven't run an extensive study either, but an expression of "follow the money" comes to mind.
 

dshoost88

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
1,606
Reaction score
56
Has a study even been done specifically for Logan regarding Lyft and Uber? Can MassPort even prove that ride share is causing the congestion? How many of the people using Lyft and Uber would have gotten a ride from a friend, taken a taxi, or driven and parked at the airport?

I suspect that a large portion of the ride share passengers would have taken a taxi or parked on site at the airport., which is impacting MassPort revenue. I haven't run an extensive study either, but an expression of "follow the money" comes to mind.
Yes... they have studied it. Here's the cliff notes version of their findings.
And more here.

There's a lot more data where that came from, but I don't have time to fish for it on the Internet now. MassPort has reported ad nauseum about this problem: they've managed flight operation growth very well, but ground-based movement of people has been a challenge, largely because of increased vehicle traffic disruptions by TNC's (Lyft & Uber).
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
92
Yes... they have studied it. Here's the cliff notes version of their findings.
And more here.

There's a lot more data where that came from, but I don't have time to fish for it on the Internet now. MassPort has reported ad nauseum about this problem: they've managed flight operation growth very well, but ground-based movement of people has been a challenge, largely because of increased vehicle traffic disruptions by TNC's (Lyft & Uber).
All those numbers show is that TNC volume is increasing at Logan. No shit. TNC volume is increasing everywhere, and at every airport. The Massport numbers also list one-way TNC trips, which is kind of a weird way of thinking about things. If your partner picks you up at the airport, you probably don't think of that as two trips and one deadhead. So if TNC deadhead percentage is <50%, that's better than the "friends and family" alternative. Deadhead percentage is zero when passengers park at the garages, but that's frowned upon too.

The relevant question here isn't "is TNC traffic increasing," the relevant question is "is TNC traffic worse than the next most likely substitute alternative." And on this, I actually believe that TNC traffic might be worse. Not because Uber/Lyft riders will shift to the T if Uber/Lyft becomes slightly less convenient (spoiler alert, they won't), but because the current/historical Uber/Lyft queuing procedure at Logan is a ridiculous mess.

By Massport's design, Uber/Lyft drivers can only be assigned pick-ups at Logan if they are waiting in the designated TNC driver lot. So after a driver drops a passenger off at a terminal, he or she currently has to loop around to the designated TNC driver lot, get assigned a pick-up there, then loop back around to return to the terminal. This is why every time you call an Uber or Lyft at Logan it's at least a 7 minute wait. All this looping takes a lot of time and causes a lot of traffic.

With the central pickup spot, this looping requirement will be eliminated. Now drivers on their way to a drop-off can be matched with a new pick-up waiting for them at the spot they're already going to. If set up correctly (and that is a big "if"), a system of this sort can chop about 15 minutes off of each drop-off/pick-up combo. At 7.5 million TNC round-trips to Logan per year, that's a LOT of time (roughly 1.9 million VHT per year) to be saved. (Note that Massport could also allow improved drop-off/pick-up pairing without the centralized lot, but that isn't happening.)

We'll see how well it works. The changes will make things less convenient for passengers being dropped off (no more drop off right at the check-in area at most times), but it could make things WAY easier for drivers (immediate drop-off and pick-up pairing with no looping required). For passengers being picked up, it'll make the walk longer but it still could be worth is if wait times are reduced by the better matching process and waiting area conditions are better (no more waiting outside in the cold and rain).
 
Last edited:

George_Apley

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,015
Reaction score
291
To be honest, I think the freakouts I've seen (on social media and traditional media) from TNC riders about these **AWFUL** new zones are ridiculous. We really are getting annoyingly helpless in so many ways.
 

whighlander

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2006
Messages
6,977
Reaction score
150
To be honest, I think the freakouts I've seen (on social media and traditional media) from TNC riders about these **AWFUL** new zones are ridiculous. We really are getting annoyingly helpless in so many ways.
George -- Exactly -- the new TNC Zones are no different in terms of distance than that managed by the typical person who parks at the Central Parking,
The TNC arrangement is significantly better than that for many who are parked on the "wrong floor" in the Central Garage way away from the "Moving Sidewalk"
Finally the TNC Zone is much less inconvenient than the arrangement for someone in "El Cheapo Parking" who has to take a bus to their car
 

sm89

Active Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2014
Messages
863
Reaction score
8
Even when the TNC Zone was somewhere between C and E (a hike), I would walk out and think to myself, would I rather jump on the shuttle or the Silver Line instead? If they were coming within 2-3 mins I would just do it.

This is exactly what they want people to do.
 

HelloBostonHi

Active Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2018
Messages
471
Reaction score
158
I mean the silver line comes every 9 or so minutes most of the day and the logan express to Back Bay runs every 20 minutes. Sure they don't run perfectly but as a frequent airport user I find I usually wait about 6-9 minutes for a bus. That's pretty comparable to the wait time for an Uber in my experience at Terminal B, where the Ubers seem to take forever to make it from the staging lot. I usually take the SL to south station even if I'm planning on taking a TNC to the final destination, in my experience it saves $15+ off the cost, especially at peak times.

However, I would like to see the MBTA fix the signs at the airport to actually show countdowns again though, not just a vague "buses every x-y minutes". I know it's difficult with the TWT but tracking transit in tunnels is not insurmountable, they've installed gadgets in the CAT that do it. I do it enough to know the check an app at baggage claim and see how long the wait is looking, and cross reference that with the google maps traffic layer of the tunnel to find out how long it'll actually be, but you can't expect tourists and out of towners to know that.
 

C-Town_Jeff

New member
Joined
Jul 10, 2018
Messages
14
Reaction score
6
I mean the silver line comes every 9 or so minutes most of the day
Sure, I could take the Silver line to South Station then either walk to Milk Street and pick up the bus or take the Red to the Orange to the Bus which is absolutely ridiculous but if I am traveling with a couple of small children and carrying their car seat, the route with least walking is sometimes the only option. So, could I do that, drive and park at the economy lot (which is what I did before Uber) or take Uber. If MassPort wants to fix the congestion, they need to think a lot bigger picture than they are.
 

Lrfox

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2006
Messages
2,542
Reaction score
49
Sure they don't run perfectly but as a frequent airport user I find I usually wait about 6-9 minutes for a bus. That's pretty comparable to the wait time for an Uber in my experience at Terminal B, where the Ubers seem to take forever to make it from the staging lot.
This is one of the most frustrating aspects of TNC at Logan. On a good day I wait +/- 10 minutes for an Uber at the C/E lot. That's if I request as I'm walking by the baggage claim. It takes forever to actually connect with one, then it takes them seemingly forever to get moving and there's still several minutes of drive time after that. On a bad/busy day (think Europe arrivals on a weekday afternoon), it can take longer to actually get a driver and I'm frequently dealing with drivers who don't move for 5 minutes then cancel the ride. All the while, my fare has gone from the initial $22 on the first effort to a whopping $35-40 as drivers play the surge pricing game. Still, if I'm going home, it makes no sense to take the Silver Line to S. Station, transfer to Red and take that to Davis and then walk. Just a lot of hassle with bags. Thankfully, I've rediscovered taxis. They're closer to the terminal, and they seem to be far more pleasant/agreeable than ever before now that they're competing. And miraculously, the credit card readers all seem to work fine now.
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,040
Reaction score
92
This is one of the most frustrating aspects of TNC at Logan. On a good day I wait +/- 10 minutes for an Uber at the C/E lot. That's if I request as I'm walking by the baggage claim. It takes forever to actually connect with one, then it takes them seemingly forever to get moving and there's still several minutes of drive time after that. On a bad/busy day (think Europe arrivals on a weekday afternoon), it can take longer to actually get a driver and I'm frequently dealing with drivers who don't move for 5 minutes then cancel the ride. All the while, my fare has gone from the initial $22 on the first effort to a whopping $35-40 as drivers play the surge pricing game. Still, if I'm going home, it makes no sense to take the Silver Line to S. Station, transfer to Red and take that to Davis and then walk. Just a lot of hassle with bags. Thankfully, I've rediscovered taxis. They're closer to the terminal, and they seem to be far more pleasant/agreeable than ever before now that they're competing. And miraculously, the credit card readers all seem to work fine now.
Right, and if the central TNC pickup/dropoff location works as intended, this 10ish minute wait should be drastically reduced. Most of that time is due to drivers having to loop back to the terminal from the staging area after they queued and matched, when with the changes packaged with the central TNC location they should be able to match while already en route to a drop off. It should also make it harder for drivers to play the "surge pricing game" at airports, because they'll be matched with their next passengers while en route was an existing one instead of while all waiting together in a lot.

I don't understand why Massport is publicizing the TNC changes as they are. They're putting a generally negative spin on all of it, basically messaging that the changes "are necessary due to the increased congestion caused by Uber and Lyft." They should be selling it as a positive, messaging that "these changes will allow your Uber and Lyft pickups to arrive faster and will save time and distance for Uber and Lyft drivers."
 
Last edited:

stellarfun

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
Messages
4,753
Reaction score
58
Rather than start a new thread, I'll include a link here to this NY Times article on delivery truck congestion in NYC.

There are now so many delivery trucks and package deliveries to non-business customers that
While the rise of ride-hailing services like Uber has unquestionably caused more traffic, the proliferation of trucks has worsened the problem. As a result, cars in the busiest parts of Manhattan now move just above a jogger’s pace, about 7 m.p.h..... "
 

George_Apley

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,015
Reaction score
291
Just wait until the skies are clogged with thousands of drones lol.

Something's gotta give in the "GET IT TO ME NOW" era of internet retail... If city government's had any balls they'd enforce parking regulations and create ordinances governing drop-off locations and times. But for now, they're slaves to the digital retailer (read: Amazon) and its hungry horde of customers who need a philips-head screwdriver NOW, goddammit!
 

Top