Another data-point on the rise of ride-hailing apps

Most transportation analysts are convinced Uber and Lyft are transforming the way people get around in the United States, but there’s been relatively little hard data.

New York City for years has required the ride-hailing apps to disclose how many drivers are working for them and how many trips they provide. Massachusetts earlier this year released detailed ride-hailing trip data for 2017. And now Seattle, after a long, grueling court fight, is putting out its own numbers.

The newly released data indicate Uber and Lyft are providing an average of 91,000 rides a day in the Seattle region, with close to half of the trips concentrated in the city’s densest neighborhoods. Those numbers, for the three-month period from April through June, indicate ride-hailing ridership now is five times larger than it was at the start of 2015.

The Seattle Times provided some context using taxis as a measuring stick. “At their peak, before Uber and Lyft arrived, Seattle taxicabs provided just over 5.2 million trips in 2012,” the paper reported. “Uber and Lyft are on pace to provide more than 31 million trips this year.”

In May, Massachusetts released a report indicating ride-hailing apps provided a total of 64.8 million trips across the state in 2017, with more than half (34.8 million) concentrated in Boston and more than two-thirds concentrated in Boston and Cambridge (6.8 million) together. Taxis provided 5.9 million trips in Boston in 2017, down nearly 24 percent from the year before.

Transportation analyst Bruce Schaller, using data from New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, said ride-hailing apps accounted for 159 million trips in the Big Apple (Manhattan and the five boroughs) in 2017, slightly less than taxis, which provided 167 million trips.

Other cities are seeing rapid growth in ride-hailing, but most lack hard data on what’s happening and have had to rely on analytical work-arounds to assess what’s happening. The ride-hailing companies themselves guard their information zealously. Schaller estimates 70 percent of all Uber and Lyft trips in the United States take place in nine large metropolitan areas – Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

The hard data from New York, Massachusetts, and now Seattle allows transportation analysts to begin assessing the impact ride-hailing apps are having. Are they cutting into transit ridership? Are they easing or increasing congestion? Once these questions are answered, policy makers can decide what, if anything, to do about it.

So far, officials in Seattle and Massachusetts have drawn no conclusions about the impact of ride-hailing apps on their streets. The New York City Council, however, has seen enough. In August, the council voted to cap the number of ride-hailing vehicles operating on the city’s streets at the current level of 100,000 for a year. The councilors said the cap was needed to prevent congestion from worsening as they try to figure out a long-term regulatory solution.



The Senate schedules two oversight hearings on the safety of the state’s gas pipeline network and the fires and explosions that occurred in the Merrimack Valley. (Gloucester Times)

Gov. Charlie Baker has renominated a Sandwich real estate lawyer to the state’s Land Court, three years after Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito abruptly adjourned the Governor’s Council meeting before the members could vote on the lawyer’s first confirmation. Baker withdrew his nomination a week later. (Cape Cod Times)


The group behind the effort to recall embattled Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia turned in more than 4,000 signatures to the city clerk for certification, a week ahead of the deadline and far more than the 2,510 required by law. (Herald News)

A Boston City Council hearing on development and displacement drew an overflow crowd in Roxbury, where residents say they are being pushed out of the neighborhood. (Boston Herald) Longtime Roxbury resident Joyce Ferriabough Bolling says the city needs to plan to contend with what’s happening in her neighborhood and other areas like South Boston. (Boston Herald)

New Bedford police will hold a gun exchange program, offering gift cards for groceries or pizza for people who turn in a shotgun, rifle, or handgun, no questions asked (Standard-Times)


A rattled President Trump assailed French President Emmanuel Macron and his country on Twitter for a variety of misleading claims and then also put the blame on his Secret Service for not allowing him to go to a ceremony at a cemetery for fallen American soldiers from World War I. (Washington Post) Trump is considering a number of high-level shakeups in his staff, including replacing Chief of Staff John Kelly. (Wall Street Journal)

The president of Assumption College lit into US bishops over their handling of sexual misconduct policies at a national meeting in Baltimore. (Boston Globe)


The Health Policy Commission’s report on the ballot question setting nurse-to-patient staffing ratios proved to be a game-changer in the fight over Question 1. CommonWealth goes back and analyzes how the report was put together with only one of the ballot question combatants aware it was coming.

Rankled Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin sues to block ranked-choice voting in his Maine congressional election. (Boston Globe)

The guessing game begins for the 2022 governor’s race. (Boston Globe)

Governing says transportation advocates fared well in the recent election, with perhaps the biggest victory coming in California where a measure to roll back a gas tax increase failed.

The Associated Press says its election projection system worked well in the midterms.


Amazon may have been attracted to New York and northern Virginia for the potential for workers but it appears more than $2 billion in tax credits and incentives from the local and state governments played a big role in the decision. (New York Times) While local officials are hailing the coup as a boon to the economy, residents worry about housing costs and gentrification once the new headquarters are running at full tilt. (U.S. News & World Report) With the Amazon antics behind us, let’s redouble efforts to address housing and transportation on their own merits, says Adrian Walker. (Boston Globe) A bitter Globe editorial says good riddance to what it says was always a lot of Bezos b.s. surrounding the headquarters hunt — and urges people, for good measure, to shop at local merchants next week on Black Friday.

Airbnb sues Boston to block regulations covering short-term rentals from taking effect in January. The company says it’s only an intermediary between hosts and guests and can’t be compelled to turn over information about them or police their actions. (CommonWealth)

Comcast is ordered to pay $700,000 in refunds to customers in connection with deceptive advertising over how much a cable package will really cost. (MassLive)

Retail clothing chain Lord & Taylor reached an agreement with the state attorney general’s office to pay $100,000 for programs to fight racial discrimination and hire consultants to train employees in its stores in Boston, Braintree, Burlington, and Natick to improve the stores’ shoplifting surveillance policies that officials say resulted in racial profiling and disproportionately targeted blacks and Hispanics. (Patriot Ledger)

The Phoenix Theatres chain wants to buy Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield but only if the city agrees to forgive more than $2 million it is owed. (Berkshire Eagle)

The FCC will hold two auctions for high-spectrum radio waves that were once considered worthless until the emergence of 5G cell service. (Wall Street Journal)


A UMass Lowell graduate and Stoughton native who now runs a successful hurricane protection company in Florida is donating $5 million to his alma mater, the largest gift in the school’s history. (The Enterprise)

A Globe editorial says school closings have to be part of the “Build BPS” plan to build new schools and renovate existing ones.


Leaders of the parent company of Somerville Hospital acknowledged in a meeting with Peter DeMarco that errors at the hospital led to his wife’s death two years ago. (Boston Globe) DeMarco wrote about Laura Levis’s tragic death earlier this month in the Globe’s Sunday magazine.

Nurses at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford are scheduled to vote whether to unionize later this month, citing staffing levels as the biggest grievance among the more than 700 nurses who would become union members. (Standard-Times)


The MBTA is soliciting proposals for a comprehensive transit study in Lynn, which has long pushed for the Blue Line to be extended to its city center. (Boston Herald)


The developer of a proposed subdivision in Framingham has filed suit against the city’s Conservation Commission saying the panel’s ruling blocking the project because part of the land is a wildlife habitat is questionable because the property is covered with trash, weeds, and gravel making it uninhabitable already. (MetroWest Daily News)


CNN has filed suit against President Trump and White House aides over the revocation of reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass. (Washington Post)


Former state senator Frederick Berry, a committed advocate for the disabled, died at age 68. (Boston Globe)