Uber not at fault for traffic: City

By Sadef Ali Kully

The city released a traffic study Friday which does not hold Uber or other app-based car services responsible for traffic congestion across the city.

The $2 million traffic study began last summer when Mayor Bill di Blasio announced a cap on Uber drivers, citing the Uber’s robust growth. The mayor contended the rise in the number of cars on the road was caused by Uber, making traffic conditions worst in the central business district in Manhattan.

Uber is a mobile app which allows passengers to order and pay for a car service with a smartphone. Passengers are picked up from their GPS-tracked location and at the end of the ride they are charged through the app.

The study said “vehicles of all types play a role in congestion in the [central business district]. The number of trips by all vehicle types in the CBD remained flat between 2014 and 2015 as increases in transit ridership offset increases in trip demand driven by growth. Increases in e-dispatch trips are largely substituting for yellow taxi trips in the CBD. Because these e-dispatch trips are substitutions and not new trips, they are not increasing [vehicle miles traveled].”

The study made recommendations for the city to “level the playing field among yellow, green, black and e-dispatch services, with differences in regulations or standard driven by clear policy goals: a quality passenger experience; new income opportunities and good jobs; cultivating a competitive and innovative market in for-hire service; ensuring accessible for-hire transportation options; safe and efficient NYC streets; and maintaining a regulatory structure with integrity.”

The mayor said at a news conference Tuesday he asked for the study to resolve important issues and it ended up reversing some misconceptions about the app-based car services.

“The congestion situation is different than some of what we knew it to be, and we have to address the congestion issue unto itself, and that’s something we’ll be talking about in the coming weeks,” he said.

In Queens, there are currently an estimated 8,000 Uber driver-partners who call Queens home out of 26,000 in total, according to the $50 billion technology company. And Uber said it plans to add an additional 4,000 jobs this year alone.

Uber said it made almost 600,000 trips through Queens on a monthly basis but did not respond to specific questions on the breakdown of those trips or the start and end points in Queens last year.

Across the city, there are an estimated 13,000 yellow taxis, an estimated 6,000 green cabs and an estimated 25,500 livery and commuter vans, according to the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission’s latest numbers. The different categories were not broken down by borough.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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