New York City’s app-based ride services provide increased mobility options but with a cost: over 600 million additional vehicle miles travelled over three years.

Analysis of the growth of app-based ride services in New York City, their impacts on traffic, travel patterns and vehicle mileage since 2013.

February 27, 2017
New York City; New York; United States

Summary Information

This report addresses the question of how app-based ride services, also called Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), might support or obstruct goals for mobility, safety and environmental sustainability of urban transportation networks. The report presents findings from a detailed analysis of the growth of app-based ride services in New York City, their impacts on traffic, travel patterns and vehicle mileage since 2013, and implications for policy makers.


The report utilized datasets available for TNCs, taxicabs and other for-hire vehicles in New York City:
  • Electronic trip logs of taxis and TNCs
  • Weekly for-hire vehicle (FHV) trip volumes
  • Monthly taxi trip volumes
  • Current licensees of licensed taxicabs, FHV vehicles and FHV bases
  • Vehicle mileage
The source data were combined in various ways to produce results for the following metrics:
  • Trips, meaning trips with one or more fare-paying passengers traveling as a group. Sources: Electronic trip data, weekly FHV trip volumes, and monthly taxi trip volumes.
  • Passengers and Ridership refer to the total number of fare-paying passengers. Each passenger is counted separately even when traveling together. Passenger volumes are based on the number of trips multiplied by the yellow cab average of 1.66 passengers per trip.
  • Mileage refers to miles traveled by licensed taxis and for-hire vehicles. Mileage includes miles traveled with passenger(s) as well as mileage between trips. Mileage includes the owner’s personal use of the vehicle. Source: Odometer data for average mileage per vehicle, combined with vehicle counts from licensee files.


Results show the increases in trips, passengers and mileage generated by the growth of Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride services since 2013. The major results from this analysis are:
  • TNCs provided 80 million trips in 2016, transporting 133 million passengers.
  • After accounting for declines in yellow cab, black car and car service ridership, TNCs have generated net increases of 31 million trips and 52 million passengers over the past three years.
  • TNCs also accounted for the addition of 600 million miles of vehicular travel over the past three years, after accounting for declines in yellow cab, black car and car service mileage and shifts from personal vehicles.
  • Growth in trips, passengers and mileage is seen throughout the city. The majority of net growth occurred in northern Manhattan and the boroughs outside Manhattan. But there was also significant growth in the Manhattan core, all of it since mid-2015.
  • Trip growth in Manhattan, after subtracting shifts between industry sectors, has been concentrated during the morning and evening peak periods, late evenings, and weekends.

The growth in TNC trips and mileage has significant implications for New York City's ability to achieve its goals for sustainable population and economic growth. Potential impacts discussed are:
  1. Travelers are moving from transit to TNCs, potentially undermining the revenue base for transit.
  2. Increased vehicle mileage from TNC increase traffic congestion delaying buses, taxis and other for-hire vehicles, driving up travel time and costs and introducing uncertainty and unreliability in travel.
  3. Increased vehicle mileage from TNCs may reduce traffic safety and increase greenhouse gas emissions.

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Unsustainable? The Growth of App-Based Ride Services and Traffic, Travel and the Future of New York City

Author: Schaller, Bruce

Published By: Schaller Consulting

Source Date: February 27, 2017



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Typical Deployment Locations

Metropolitan Areas


TNC, VMT, Shared Use Mobility, Mobility on Demand, MOD, transit

Benefit ID: 2018-01245