The number of cars on the streets has majorly become cabs which, in this age of technology, can be summoned by just a small click of a button on our mobile screens. The most popular of all apps, Uber has a near-monopoly on this business of taxis, with Lyft seconding the position. The unprecedented success of Uber worldwide can be boiled down to reasons including ease of use, safety, and cost-saving.
Since being founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, Uber has become the biggest name in ride-sharing services. Through its app, users in over 300 cities across 68 countries can call cabs and pay for these rides. According to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report, the global sharing economy is expected to grow from $15 billion last year to $335 billion by the year 2025 in which Uber is already making its presence felt in this economy.
To understand the inner functioning of the app and its impact on public transformation, Alan Mislove and Christo Wilson, associate professors at Northeastern University in the College of Computer and Information Science, conducted a study of the population and density of Uber and Lyft vehicles in San Francisco. In their research, they found that the hotspots for these cabs are usually around the busiest parts of the city, obviously to increase their average profit. This has had a huge impact on public transportation systems, affecting the City Planning Budget. “If you’re an urban planner or a civil engineer, this is huge,” Wilson said. “It will impact your investment strategy going forward. Maybe you don’t invest in more buses or trains, but instead in the roads—doing that with ride-sharing in mind.”
Uber and Lyft have argued that they help public transport, by claiming that they bring people to stations and create the conditions for people not to own a car. This holds to a certain degree but it does not take into account how these Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) increase congestion.
These companies are again an example of emerging capitalism in recent times. With their ever-expanding network, these companies have eaten up the jobs for the native drivers and have also contributed to the increasing pollution and traffic congestion.