by Matt Mann, Research Program Coordinator
People are taking Uber, Lyft or Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) more these days and often to avoid both parking and drinking and driving. Although the majority of users are urban base, demand has been increasing in suburbia for Ubering. TNCs have changed the way people get around and have impacted traffic in many cities. If these types of rides are a pre-cursor to autonomous vehicles, the additional passenger trips will continue to increase and will also impact economic development.
A recent U.C. Davis study that included 4,000 users in seven major metro areas—Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., between 2014 and 2016 – points to cities increasing in passenger trips and in population, but transit rides and taxi trips decreasing. The TNCs are the main source that are accommodating the increase in trips and in-turn causing more urban traffic congestion.
This study also found that around 50% of these trips would not have happened at all or would have been done some other way, via transit, walking etc…This coupled with the dead head time, when no passengers are in the vehicle, the TNCs are having a dramatic impact on vehicle miles traveled and congestion.
Currently New York City is the only major metropolitan city that mandates TNCs to report their travel data. Other cities are able to obtain data but TNCs are not required to share it. Being able to access and analyze this data can be the key to determining current and future traffic impacts.
Massachusetts passed legislation in 2016, creating a regulatory framework for TNCs. Speaking with Katie Gronendyke, Press Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the MA Department of Public Utilities Transportation Network Companies Division does require some TNC travel data to be reported:
(2) Annually, a TNC shall report to the Division the following: (a) By February 1st of each calendar year, a TNC shall submit a report for the number of Rides from the previous calendar year, including: 1. City or town where each Ride originated; 2. City or town where each Ride ended; 3. Aggregated and anonymized trip route and length (miles and minutes); and 4. Location of Vehicle accidents;
(b) By March 31st of each calendar year, a TNC shall report its intrastate operating revenues for the previous calendar year. If a TNC fails to report its intrastate operating revenues to the Division by March 31st of any calendar year, the Division may estimate a TNC’s intrastate operating revenues. A TNC’s intrastate operating revenue shall include but not be limited to any Rider picked up at the following: 1. Airport; 2. Train station; 3. Bus terminal; or 4. Any other kind of port.