Lyft & Uber Reject Transportation Safety Study, Researchers Support Congestion Pricing

Should cities consider congestion pricing as they develop revenue generating programs for ride sharing? One study, rejected by Uber and Lyft, finds fatalities and costs are rising in major cities.

Lyft and Uber have rejected a study on the effects ride sharing has had on fatal accidents by University of Chicago School of Business and Rice University researchers, according to MarketWatch.

The study, which included reviews of National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data and CrashStats, concluded a 3 percent rise in serious and deadly accidents in major American cities once ride-hail platforms are introduced.

A Lyft spokeswoman said the study is “deeply flawed, from the problematic methodology to its unjustified conclusions," adding:

Numerous studies have shown that ride-share has reduced DUIs, provided safe transportation in areas underserved by other options, and dramatically improved mobility in cities. The safety and protection of everyone on the road is our top priority.”

While various difficult-to-measure factors -- from the increase in ridership to ride share drivers distracted by their smartphone GPS -- may be contributing to more accidents, the key takeaway is there is a net increase of fatalities, and its happening primarily in big cities, according to Forbes.

The researchers indicated its not just that there are more cars on city streets with ride sharing, but pedestrian and cyclist safety is being affected, as well. With Uber and Lyft drivers traveling 500 million miles per month (by 2016 estimates), the researchers say the loss of life is a $10 billion drag on the economy -- based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s statistical value of a life.

Local Governments Consider Congestion Pricing

The researchers advise local governments to use their findings to consider their developing regulations permitting and seek to create revenue from ride sharing.

If they are leading to more accidents and fatalities, we should be talking about engaging congestion taxes, or should we enhance safety if we don't want to reduce the number of vehicles on the road," said Rice University Professor Yael V. Hochberg.

Congestion taxing has recently been approved by the state of New York for Manhattan, according to Curbed New York. That means cars entering the New York City neighborhood in 2021 will pay fees -- revenue that will fund $15 billion in Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) capital spending between 2020-2024.

Many hope congestion pricing will reduce traffic while it addresses the root causes of the public transit system's notorious service delays.

The state mandated the MTA develop the congestion pricing scheme for south of 60th Street, and its Traffic Mobility Review Board will recommend tolling amounts and a variable pricing structure.

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