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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on June 5th, 2017 | by Cynthia Shahan


Many Uber & Lyft Riders Shedding Their Own Cars

June 5th, 2017 by  

If you’ve traveled much, it is easy to appreciate the convenience of tapping up an app for an Uber or Lyft, jumping in the ride, and getting rather easily to your destination. As well as travelers, urbanites are often pedestrians who combine metro, subway, and on-demand taxi services such as Uber and Lyft as a way of life.

With the added measure of services such as Lyft and Uber, a small percentage of drivers have been deciding to graduate beyond car payments, to stop leasing or owning cars. They have chosen to do away with parking headaches and car insurance payments.

Paul Henderson reports, “Nearly a quarter of American adults sold or traded in a vehicle in the last 12 months, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll published last month. Most bought or leased another car. Yet, 9 percent of that group turned to ride services like Lyft Inc and Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL]. The group in this poll reports services such as Uber and Lyft are their main transit.”

Using on-demand taxi services, carsharing services, and/or bikesharing services with a bit of walking sprinkled in can be a liberation from monthly car bills. Think of the extra money available for a vacation or simply the pleasure of avoiding the daily hassles of parking.

“Lyft Director of Transportation Policy Emily Castor called the survey ‘early evidence’ that its vision of a world where personal car ownership was unnecessary was beginning to take hold.”

Henderson notes Wally Nowinski, who got his first car at 16 in Michigan, as an example. Living in New York City, Nowinski sold his car and turned to app-based services, carsharing, and bikesharing. “My mom didn’t think I could do it. She thought I would buy a new car in six months,” he said. But that was more than a year ago, and his car budget of $820 per month fell to $250 for carsharing and other transport services last year. Nowinski noted that he uses Uber “pretty frivolously.”

Even driving for Uber and Lyft in a smaller town, drivers find a fair number of passengers are people going to and from work, complementing the regular latenight drinking and dinner fares.

With approximately 9% of people who are turning in their cars deciding to not get a new one and just switch to such services, it is no wonder that automakers are jumping into this new market.

Presently, many humans (who need jobs) are working as drivers for Uber and Lyft. Things will change. Advances in self-driving car technology are growing as solid investments for many companies, which could make such offerings even cheaper and more convincing. Henderson continues:

“The survey was the first on the subject by Reuters/Ipsos, so it was not possible to tell whether the move to ride services from car ownership is accelerating, and respondents were not asked whether they gave up a car because of ride services.

“The survey showed that 39 percent of Americans had used rides services and that 27 percent of that group did so at least several times per week.

“University of California, Berkeley researcher Susan Shaheen said the results on the move to ride services was in line with her 2016 study of a one-way carsharing service, which found a small portion of customers sold a vehicle due to carsharing. She noted, however, that the Reuters/Ipsos survey did not address carsharing or whether people who did not own cars would avoid buying one because of ride services.”

Transportation consultant Bruce Schaller explained the move to ridesharing is often due to employment changes and factors such as moving in and out of cities. Schaller notes the change in lifestyle as the services take hold, “It’s not the predominant trend, but there are a significant number of people who have changed their lifestyle, if you will, and are now relying much more on ride services than their own car.”

Flexibility and mobility are attractive, particularly when you are young. Age is not the full equation — cities with good transit systems, walkability, and bikeability are great, but potentially even easier to get around in when people using these modes can sometimes use an Uber/Lyft instead. If you travel Europe, all ages of people walk more, use metro more, bike more, and are generally thinner and more fit. On-demand taxi services simply supplement the flexibility of transit. Reuters notes that it is particularly people who used many sharing services, such as rideshares, carshares, and bikeshares who fit the market best.

It seems the subculture of ridesharing offers many things besides shedding one’s car:

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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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