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Taken for a Ride: an examination of the spatial and temporal characteristics of shared ride-hailing services

Authors: Mischa Young*, University of Toronto, Matthew Palm, University of Toronto Scarborough, Steven Farber, University of Toronto Scarborough
Topics: Transportation Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: ride-hailing; travel-time difference; Uber; Big data; shared mobility; Uberpool; Lyft
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Shared ride-hailing services (e.g. UberPool) are on the rise in almost every city where they are allowed to operate, yet the extent to which their impacts differ from regular forms of ride-hailing remains contested and largely misunderstood. Building upon the success of the peer-to-peer model, which allows private vehicle owners to also serve as drivers, shared ride-hailing services enable previously unacquainted passengers to share rides and provide sizeable fare discounts in return. By promising lower fares, these services have experienced monumental growth and have rapidly come to represent over a quarter of all ride-hailing trips in large cities such as Toronto. In addition to their rising popularity, what has caught policymakers’ attention is that the benefits of these shared services likely go beyond those proposed by regular forms of ride-hailing, and may potentially justify more lenient regulations as they aligned much closer with cities sustainable transport objectives. Using detailed trip records of all Uber trips conducted in Toronto between September 2016 to April 2017, this paper examines the spatial and temporal characteristics of UberPool services and establishes the factors that influence the difference in travel-time between shared ride-hailing trips and their equivalent non-shared trips. Results from this research contribute novel empirical evidence of the effects of shared ride-hailing services on urban mobility systems and expose their intrinsic spatial-related inequalities. This research further provides a benchmark in terms of deviation time expectations for shared mobility services and investigates the ensuing implications for future partnerships between these services and public transit agencies.

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