Large-scale, longitudinal study shows that Transportation Network Companies increase congestion and pollution in New York City.

Analysis of Uber and Lyft data in New York City shows that these services likely worsen traffic congestion and hence pollution.


Summary Information

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) have been a hot topic in transportation planning and policy making over the last decade. Much speculation has occurred concerning their effects on traffic congestion, mobility, and the overall transport system. However, due to lack data researchers have been unable to conduct much empirical research on their effects. But now, thanks to new data availability, there is an increasing amount of empirical research on TNCs.


As part of this wave of more empirical research on TNCs, a research team from Purdue University studied the effect of TNCs on congestion and pollution in New York City (NYC). The team collected trajectory data, essentially the imputed travel path of TNC vehicles, by data mining the Uber and Lyft APIs. Data was collected for approximately one month in 2017 and 2019.

After collecting data, the team used various modeling methods to estimate total emissions from TNC travel and congestion from TNC travel. The team then compared the results of their modeling efforts between 2017 and 2019 to understand if TNCs are making congestion and pollution worse.

  • Results suggest that the increased number of TNC trips in NYC resulted in an average citywide speed reduction of 22.5 percent on weekdays.
  • Increased congestion from TNCs likely caused increased emissions including a 136 percent increase in NOx (Nitrous oxide), 152 percent increase in CO (Carbon monoxide), and a 157 percent increase in HC (Hydrocarbons) per kilometer by TNCs.

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Impact of Transportation Network Companies on Urban Congestion: Evidence from Large-Scale Trajectory Data

Author: Qian, Xinwu; Tian Lei; Jiawei Xue; Zengxiang Lei; and Satish V. Ukkusuri

Published By: Elseivier - Sustainable Cities and Society

Source Date: 04/01/2020

Other Reference Number: Volume 55, April 2020,102053



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Benefit ID: 2020-01441