After flying to Los Angeles airport, I found myself in an “unhappy crowd of restless travellers” who’d been waiting as long as half an hour for their Lyfts and Ubers, says Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times. The Lyft prices I was offered for the six-mile journey home “ranged from $59 to $108”. In 2015 I paid $8.43 for the same trip. It’s now clear “the promises from founders of rideshare businesses were nothing but pie-in-the-sky fantasies”.
The shortage of drivers and the ensuing “surge pricing” are annoying but make sense, given supply and demand. Less defensible is the idea that these services get “more people into fewer cars” and dramatically reduce air pollution, as Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick proclaimed. An “abundance” of research proves the opposite: in San Francisco, home to both Uber and Lyft, traffic speeds have plummeted. In most cities rideshare drivers “cruise around without passengers 40% of the time”. A ride-hailing trip is 70% more polluting than the average car trip it replaces. People even use Uber or Lyft instead of public transport or walking. As for my journey back from the airport, “I hopped into a cab and was home in 15 minutes. The tab: $34.69.”