Uber not responsible for New York traffic: Study refutes mayor’s accusation

January 18
6:20 AM 2016

In July last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio lay the blame on Uber for the terrible traffic in Manhattan's Central Business District below 60th Street. Following this, a highly expensive study which cost a whopping $2 million was commissioned to find out exactly how the popular taxi service contributes to the congestion.

Now, six months later, the study has been released which has cleared Uber's name in its findings. The Observer reported the study stated, "E-dispatch is a contributor to overall congestion but did not drive the recent increase in congestion." It basically indicated that Uber cabs have offset the absence of yellow, hail cabs in the said area, which means it did not really add to the crowd. ""Reductions in vehicular speeds are driven primarily by increased freight movement, construction activity, and population growth," as concluded by the study.

However, the brevity of the report came as a surprise. ""It's as if the new 'Star Wars' movie everyone was waiting for was just a two-minute animation," said Mr. Charles Komanoff, a transportation analyst, reported The New York Times. A more thorough and detailed study with supporting spreadsheets was expected in the face of the money spent for this analysis.

The expensive traffic report was conducted by the mayor's Office of Operations in association with McKinsey & Co. and a former transportation official. The study took place, replacing the mayor's plans to put a cap on the number of Uber cabs which would have adversely impacted the company's growth. The controversial plan had brought on a lot of criticisms, accusing the mayor of favoring the yellow cabs who have made heavy donations to protect themselves from competition like Uber and Lyft.

While the study recommended against limiting the number of Uber vehicles in the city streets, it does not discount the fact that the e-hailing cars can become a cause of concern in the future. If people opt for these services instead of public transportation, it will eventually add to traffic congestions. Some legislative changes are already underway that will probably limit Uber's unregulated movements.

Another finding focuses on the difference in fee structure between the yellow cabs and e-hailing taxi services. The government plans to make several reforms to level out the disparity. The yellow cabs send the Metropolitan Transportation Authority a 50% surcharge for each taxi ride, whereas Uber and Lift provide a much smaller portion by way of sales tax.

Uber, however, is quite unperturbed by news of such reforms. CNN Money represents that Josh Mohrer, Uber New York General Manager, mentioned in an e-mailed statement "We appreciate the thoughtful process Mayor de Blasio and his administration have engaged in over the last several months to improve the commercial car industry. We will be reviewing the policy ideas and hope to work with the de Blasio administration and the City Council on implementing many of them." 

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