A discussion of the sustainability and travel behaviour impacts of ride-hailing is provided, based on an extensive literature review of studies from both developed and developing countries. The effects of ride-hailing on vehicle-kilometres travelled (VKT) and traffic externalities such as congestion, pollution and crashes are analysed. Modal substitution, user characterisation and induced travel outputs are also examined. A summary of findings follows. On the one hand, ride-hailing improves the comfort and security of riders for several types of trips and increases mobility for car-free households and for people with physical and cognitive limitations. Ride-hailing has the potential to be more efficient for rider-driver matching than street-hailing. Ride-hailing is expected to reduce parking requirements, shifting attention towards curb management. On the other hand, results on the degree of complementarity and substitution between ride-hailing and public transport and on the impact of ride-hailing on VKT are mixed; however, there is a tendency from studies with updated data to show that the ride-hailing substitution effect of public transport is stronger than the complementarity effect in several cities and that ride-hailing has incremented motorised traffic and congestion. Early evidence on the impact of ride-hailing on the environment and energy consumption is also concerning. A longer-term assessment must estimate the ride-hailing effect on car ownership. A social welfare analysis that accounts for both the benefits and costs of ride-hailing remains unexplored. The relevance of shared rides in a scenario with mobility-as-a-service subscription packages and automated vehicles is also highlighted.
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Mobility-on-demand is defined as a transport concept where ‘consumers can access mobility, goods, and services on demand by dispatching or using shared mobility, courier services, unmanned aerial vehicles and public transportation solutions’ (Shaheen et al. 2017b).
Although the very consideration of ride-hailing as part of the sharing economy is a topic of current debate, due mainly to the asymmetries in the relationship between commercial ride-hailing companies and drivers.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/22/didi-chuxing-2018-disruptor-50.html, accessed August 14th, 2018.
https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/06/ola-is-bringing-its-ride-hailing-service-to-the-uk/, accessed September 14th, 2018.
https://www.uber.com/en-BR/cities/, accessed August 20th, 2018.
US-based surveys show that Millennials (young adults born between 1981 and 1997) tend to be more multimodal and to rely more on mobile and digital services for transport-related decisions (TRB 2013), which helps to explain the greater adoption of ride-hailing among younger people.
Depending on the station, the closing time of the Santiago subway system is between 11:20 and 11:50 p.m.
https://www.uber.com/en-SG/drive/resources/uberassist/, accessed August 24th, 2018.
Between 2015 and 2018, 103 Uber drivers were accused of sexual assault or abuse in the United States, see https://money.cnn.com/2018/04/30/technology/uber-driver-sexual-assault/index.html?iid=EL, accessed July 9th, 2019.
Millennials: young adults born between 1981 and 1997.
Generation X: middle-aged adults born between 1965 and 1980.
Other subsidies include discounted ride-hailing trips for people with disabilities.
Miami, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and Washington.
For the studies with surveys from the US, the sampling method of each work is discussed in Rodier (2018).
Delay is defined as the difference between congested and free-flow travel time.
http://fortune.com/2018/06/20/uber-drivers-switch-electric-cars/, accessed August 25th, 2018.
In January 2017, the taxi app Easy launched the Easy Economy option, which charges taxi users 85% of the price of a normal taxi ride.
http://www.uchile.cl/noticias/136752/se-justifica-que-los-taxis-usen-las-pistas-de-buses, in Spanish, accessed August 26th, 2018.
Another source of efficiency of ride-hailing is the reduced need for parking compared with that associated with private car ownership by the travellers, as discussed in “Ride-hailing and public policy: the issue of regulation” section.
A fuller list of services and providers in the short history of ride-hailing has been assembled by Shaheen (2018).
It has also been argued that to grow, ride-hailing companies are willing to subsidise prices and therefore depend on investment funding. A detailed discussion of ride-hailing business models is outside the scope of this paper.
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Part of this paper was written while the author was August-Wilhelm Scheer Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Munich. Support from CONICYT PIA/BASAL AFB180003 is also acknowledged. The comments from three anonymous reviewers have improved the content and presentation of this paper.
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Tirachini, A. Ride-hailing, travel behaviour and sustainable mobility: an international review. Transportation 47, 2011–2047 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11116-019-10070-2
- Transportation network companies (TNC)
- Shared mobility
- Sharing economy