Transportation Network Companies Have Increased Congestion Intensity by 0.9 percent and Congestion Duration by 4.5 percent.

A Statistical Analysis of Transportation Network Companies in the United States.

Date Posted

Impacts of transportation network companies on urban mobility

Summary Information

Aided by the growth of smartphones and high-speed data access, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), which allow users to book and pay for livery services from their smartphone, have become a ubiquitous facet of urban life.

However, TNCs have been controversial since their inception. Proponents of the services argue that they decrease urban congestion because they can encourage shared rides and decrease private automobile use. However, opponents argue that these services increase urban congestion by putting more cars on the road and encouraging vehicle use in heavily congested urban areas.

In response to this controversy, a research team empirically assessed the effect of TNCs on urban congestion. To do this the team gathered Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) level data on congestion, public transit ridership, and vehicle ownership in the United States. However, the team was unable to access detailed TNC usage data. Therefore, the team used “the number of years after TNC entry as a proxy for TNC market penetration [i.e. TNC usage rates].” Then the team used various modeling techniques to estimate the effect of TNCs on congestion and public transit ridership.

The results of this study are:

  • The entry of TNCs into an MSA was associated with a 0.9 percent increase in congestion intensity and 4.5 percent increase in congestion duration.
  • The entrance of TNCs into an MSA was associated with a 8.9 percent reduction in public transit ridership. 
  • TNCs were not associated with any significant change in vehicle ownership.
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