Are all those ride-hailing apps creating more traffic headaches?

With an estimated 30,000 Uber drivers now roaming the streets of the D.C. region, WAMU’s Martin Di Caro wonders whether this is creating more or less clogged traffic. Cal-Berkeley’s Susan Shaheen says it’s complicated.

“Our research suggests that it is taking, on net, cars off the road.” Some users wound up using cars more, she says, but others “are selling a car and depending less on private vehicle ownership, or simply foregoing that planned purchase.” A study by the American Public Transportation Association says they do: Uber and Lyft users in seven big cities including Washington are more likely to use mass transit, walk, and bike, and less likely to own cars.

One overlooked benefit of ride-hailing is its drivers do not need to find parking. District transportation officials estimate 25 to 30 percent of traffic in the city is caused by drivers who are circling blocks looking for spaces.

Uber says one-fourth of its trips have more than one passenger (UberPOOL) and that more than half a million riders have taken a pooled trip in the past three months.

This research is taking place as the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is entering a partnership with Uber. The tech company will share travel time data with city transportation planners in an effort to better manage traffic flow.

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