Without a doubt, services like Uber and Lyft have fundamentally changed the nature of transportation and employment — especially in cities around the United States. Once predominantly acquired through waving and praying a driver would see you, taxi-like services are now available at your fingertips.
With a few taps on a phone screen, riders can pay for a driver to transport them to locations previously difficult to navigate due to parking, traffic, and more. This transformation of on-demand transportation has not come without its drawbacks. Case in point: some municipalities have banned the services or temporarily prevented them from operating in their city limits.
It is thus appropriate to compare the benefits and drawbacks of the rideshare services that are increasingly popular and increasingly pertinent to discussions of transportation, accessibility, and a new workforce:
Benefits of Rideshare Services:
- With fewer cars to be on the road, many rideshare services advertise their implicit contributions to pollution reduction.
- Similarly, rideshare services decrease traffic through by offering convenient and congestion-reducing carpooling services like “Uber Pool” or a service formerly known as “Lyft Line.”
- Some people can’t afford (or don’t want) cars but can afford occasionally using rideshare services. For errands like grocery store trips, traveling solely through public transportation or bicycling can be a hassle.
- Flexible hours for Uber drivers give opportunities to those seeking an easy, part-time gig
- For others, the rideshare services can act as a primary form of income. This potential job offers people the opportunity to make money through a car they may already own and time they already have!
Unfortunately, not every impact of rideshare apps is positive. There is another side to the services wherein danger and negativity can bloom.
Negative Impacts of Rideshare Services:
- Safety concerns are the largest drawbacks of rideshare apps. Unlike old taxi services, drivers are not required to undergo background checks or other key safety protocols.
- The potential anonymity of drivers has led to prominent, though rare, cases of rideshare drivers abducting or otherwise endangering riders.
- Rising or unfair costs for riders is another concern, as “surge pricing” takes place during high-volume moments and rides can cost several times their normal rate.
- Another point of tension is the sometimes comparatively low rate of pay for rideshare drivers to traditional taxi drivers. Voluntary tips are incredibly important to drivers, who are charged upwards of 25% of pay by the rideshare companies
Ultimately, the negative impacts may be worth the freedom and convenience of rideshare applications. However, a consumer should know what is at stake in the debate.
Another obvious concern is rideshare car accidents that leave the driver, rider, pedestrians, and others on the road in potential peril. Thankfully, there is no evidence to suggest that rideshare services are inherently dangerous.
According to the website for The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee, the arrival of rideshare services in a city can be linked to a decrease in drunk driving-related fatalities and car accidents. Among other explanations, it is estimated that the effect is due to inebriated would-be drivers relying on rideshare services to get home at night.