Understanding the Surprising and Oversized Use of Ridesourcing Services in Poor Neighborhoods in NYC
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Understanding the Surprising and Oversized Use of Ridesourcing Services in Poor Neighborhoods in NYC

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  • English

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      Final Report
    • Abstract:
      For-hire vehicle trips in the five boroughs of New York City from 2014 to 2017 increased by 82 million annually (46%). This report uses factor analysis and cluster analysis to create a typology that is then used to quantify how usage patterns have evolved in different types of neighborhood. Having surged 40-fold, ridesourcing trips originating in the outer boroughs now constitute 56% of the overall market. Many of the outer borough neighborhoods in which ridesourcing trips originated are home to minority, relatively low-income populations with low car ownership rates. It is possible that these trips in the outer boroughs are being taken by local residents to fill gaps in mobility services, as these locations are less well-served by public transportation and other for-hire vehicles such as yellow taxis. The surge in ridesourcing trips in the outer boroughs is important for three reasons. First, if ridesourcing is being used to provide desired levels of accessibility by outer borough residents, having this need filled by for-profit entities with notoriously variable pricing structures could have long-term consequences for transportation equity. Second, if the trips represent induced travel, the associated externalities will negatively impact vehicle emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation safety. Third, local policymakers need to be aware of the dynamics unfolding in the outer boroughs because regulations that have been adopted to reduce congestion currently only apply to trips originating in Manhattan. Moreover, all stakeholders should reassess how disruptive transportation technology companies are regulated with respect to data sharing. Companies such as Uber are proving to be highly disruptive to the existing transportation system. With a remit to be entrepreneurial, disruptors are expected to be agile and respond to shifts in the regulatory landscape and marketplace in a highly fluid manner. This dexterity may produce both opportunities and challenges for cities. A city’s transportation system is the foundation upon which its economy, vitality, and social welfare depend. Each component of the network creates both positive and negative spillover effects. Ridesourcing companies have at their disposal a wealth of data about customers, travel behavior, willingness to pay for different services at different times (including pooled services). Even though city governments have the remit to set the priorities and operating rules for their transportation system as a whole, it may be difficult for them to do so without access to data from emerging transportation technology companies. City governments need to consider whether or not they wish to allow ridesourcing companies to continue to operate without making firmer commitments to information sharing that would allow stakeholders to assess the potential externalities that may undermine important transportation sustainability goals.
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