Uber and Lyft may cause lower car ownership in big cities: study

A new study has shed light on what may turn out to be a growing trend: lower car ownership in cities where ridesharing services are available. Though the figures are still in their infancy at the moment, a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute noted that both car usage and car ownership increased once Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin, Texas.

One hawked benefit of ridesharing transportation services like Lyft and Uber is the decreased need for personal car ownership, though that very much depends on the kind of city where someone lives. If you're in a big city with a large ridesharing car fleet in operation, there may not be much need to own your own vehicle — after all, getting a ride is only a couple taps away.

While Uber and Lyft have both deployed in a number of cities, they have, at times, had to abandon those cities due to local governments driving them out for one reason or another. That's what happened in Austin, Texas, opening the door for an interesting study on personal car ownership. Did the sudden absence of these two services cause increased car usage and/or ownership, or did things remain unaffected?

The result, according to the study, was a big increase in personal car usage and a statistically significant increase in car ownership. The researchers surveyed a total of 1,200 people from the Austin region, and found that 41-percent of them started using their own car more often to make up for the lack of Uber and Lyft rides. As well, a total of 9-percent of those surveyed bought their own personal car to make up for the services' absences.

Increase personal car usage and ownership poses a problem for cities, which are experiencing increased congestion on roads and a growing need for more parking decks, among other things. Large numbers of vehicles on the road also pose a problem for the climate, which suffers as a result of the emissions that cars produce. Ridesharing services have been praised as a potential solution to these problems.

SOURCE: Reuters