Articles, Smart Mobility

Driving Services increase traffic volume

Californian authorities have reported a steady increase in traffic through transport services such as Uber and Lyft.

Both in Germany and The US, many had hoped that new mobility concepts would reduce traffic. California in particular welcomed these new concepts. This includes both the efforts for autonomous driving and the Mobility-as-a-Service concept. Driving services, as offered by Uber or Lyft, belong to the latter. Now the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) has analyzed its traffic volume of the past eight years with striking results: driving services seem to be having the opposite effect.

Factors in the increase in traffic volume

The analysis showed that transport services were responsible for about half of the increase in traffic. Since 2010, the volume of traffic has been on the rise, and with it the number of traffic jams and other side effects. In addition to the driving services, the growing population in the city and the increase in jobs in San Francisco could be identified as further factors contributing to the higher traffic volume. Together, however, these latter factors account for barely half of the rise in traffic.

Results of the SFCTA analysis

The SFCTA analysis did not only show that traffic as such was increasing. It was possible to show more specific results. For example, the duration of daily commuting has gone up by 51 percent. The number of kilometers travelled increased by 47 percent and traffic jams by 25 percent. At the same time, the average speed decreased by 55 percent.

These developments affect some districts of the city of San Francisco more than others. For example, the number of delays due to driving services in District 6, where the tech companies are located, has risen by 45 percent. However, the increase in employment also had an impact here. At the moment, this is estimated at 36 percent. In District 3, however, the driving services even caused 73 percent of the delays.

The data set

The SFCTA used the figures of the traffic data specialist Inrix, who analyze GPS data. Furthermore, the study evaluated data from the highway monitoring systems and the Northeastern University. However, this analysis does not convey any information about delivery services, which are also likely to account for much of the traffic.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: