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10 August 2017

Consumers Want Uber And Lyft Rides Over Buying A Car

Some consumers are starting to prefer a shared, hailed ride over buying their own car, a study says.

University researchers surveyed more than 1,200 people in Austin, Texas, to find out how their transportation habits changed after ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft pulled out of the market after a May 2016 local election failed to honor their intentions.

The study by University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and Columbia University, found that 41 percent went back to using their own vehicle to fill the void, and only nine percent went out and bought a car for their mobility needs.

About 3 percent chose public transit, and 42 percent switched to another smaller transportation networking company in the market.

In May 2016, voters blocked a ballot measure that would have allowed Uber and Lyft to keep using their own background-check systems. The companies pulled their drivers out of the market after the measure failed.

That led to 12 app-based startups trying to fill the void. Most are gone, but a few are still in business serving Austin.

Researchers in the study analyzed the findings and reported that Austin survey respondents who had transitioned to a personal vehicle were 23-times more likely to take more trips than those who had switched to a different ride-hailing firm. Trips went way down after Uber and Lyft left the city — the average frequency on trips went from 5.65 times per month to 2.01, a 68 percent drop.

One surprising element of the study was that consumers with household incomes over $100,000 were less likely to buy a new car than those under that income benchmark. The researchers speculated that wealthier Austin residents already had a vehicle to use and didn’t need to purchase a second vehicle right away.

The university researchers have been impressed with the explosive growth Uber, Lyft, and other mobility services have seen in recent years. Their potential is vast in reducing gasoline consumption and pollution, but the study found it’s too early to see those results. The change that is becoming clear from the study is choices consumers are making about transportation.

“On-demand, ride-sourcing services have grown tremendously in the last decade and they promise a host of potential public benefits — reduced energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, easing of road congestion, as well as affordability, and accessibility,” said Robert Hampshire, a professor at UMTRI and lead author of the new study.

“However, we’ve yet to see empirical evidence of these benefits in the research literature. The suspension of services in Austin provided for a natural experiment to measure its impact on travel behavior,” Hampshire said.

SEE ALSO: Maven Says Uber and Lyft Drivers Love Chevy Bolt

More data will be available soon.

In late May, Uber and Lyft relaunched their services in Austin. This was in response to the state adopting Texas House Bill 100, which overrides local ordinances. It also creates statewide regulations governing transportation network companies.

The research team has pledged to continuing the research to measure the impact of the re-entry of the major ride-haling firms back to Austin.

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