BOSTON – We all know that traffic in Boston is...bad. But with the meteoric rise of ride-sharing, I wonder how much that is to blame. Rideshares seem ubiquitous; it's like every other car I pass has those shiny Lyft lights on their dashboard. Truth is, it's only 8% of cars in Boston. Let's take a look at this study, how we compare to other cities, and what this means for our traffic gripes.
Firstly, the analysis took a look at the core of Boston, but also the surrounding areas, where most people live. The results are fairly expected. In the core county (Boston proper) the percent of miles driven by Uber and Lyft was 7.7%. That's pretty high. Compare that to Chicago (3.3%), Seattle (1.9%) and even Los Angeles (2.6%). The only major city (other than NYC, which was not included in the study) that had a worse percentage than us was, quite understandably, San Francisco, with a whopping 12.8%.
These numbers are dramatically lower in the counties that immediately surround the cities. In the counties surrounding Boston proper, the percentage drops to 1.9%. This means that a minuscule amount of traffic on your drive home has anything to do with Uber and Lyft. This makes sense, too. Very few people could afford or would even want to take a 45-minute Uber ride from a surrounding county into Boston, whereas if you live in Southie, you're a 10-minute Uber from downtown (depends what time you leave).
This trend held up in the other major cities as well, with Chicago (2.1%), Seattle (1.1%) and Los Angeles (1.5%) all reporting low numbers. Again, the highest was San Francisco with 2.7%.
If I take anything from all these findings, it's that Uber and Lyft aren't really the root cause of our traffic challenges. Yes, after a Red Sox game, it's possible that the number spikes quite high, but for the most part, less than 1 in 10 cars you are sitting next to in traffic in Boston proper are Ubers or Lyfts.
Truth is, we just have too many people driving on the same inadequate roads.