Five years ago, Travis Kalanick was so confident that Uber Technologies Inc.’s rides would prompt people to leave their cars at home that he told a tech conference: “If every car in San Francisco was Ubered there would be no traffic.”
Today, a mounting collection of studies shows the opposite: Far from easing traffic, Uber and its main rival Lyft Inc. are adding to congestion in numerous U.S. downtowns.
Officials in San Francisco, Chicago and New York have cited congestion as the main rationale for new fees they recently enacted on Lyft and Uber rides in each of the cities. Other regulators around the country are considering similar fees. Uber and Lyft no longer pledge ride-hailing will reduce traffic, acknowledging that they add to congestion, though they say some studies overstate their role in the problem.
The app makers initially thought their technology would create seamless trips, with four strangers forsaking their own cars for a shared ride. Cutting-edge algorithms, they believed, would steer behavior through pricing and route-matching, letting drivers spend little time between trips. Riders leaving their cars at home would then increasingly hop on buses, bikes or walk in a gridlock-easing ripple effect.
Seriously, the ability of charlatans to take a pile of crap and give it a shine by calling it disruption.