UberBOAT meets #UberData

Insights from Boston’s UberBOAT

Today the Science Team drops into uncharted territory like tea to the harbor with UberBOAT! The Uber Boston crew made an exciting move last month — from June 4th-15th, curious (and persistent) Bostonians were able to request a water taxi using the Uber app from 20 docks along the Boston Harbor.

Here’s what we learned about Boston, boats, and transportation options from our most recent experiment in moving people around cities.

Where you could take UberBOAT

Where you could take UberBOAT: Dots are possible pickup/dropoff docks. Colors correspond to the divvied districts.

Where you could take UberBOAT: Dots are possible pickup/dropoff docks. Colors correspond to the divvied districts.

We examined how many trips went where during UberBOAT by divvying up our #UberData into four geographical districts separated by water: Downtown Boston, Seaport, East Boston, and Charlestown.

How you took UberBOAT

How you took UberBOAT: Arrows point to UberBOAT district destinations. The thicker the arrow, the more trips took place. Arrows returning to the same district went to a different dock (as all trips were one-way.)

How you took UberBOAT: Arrows point to UberBOAT district destinations. The thicker the arrow, the more trips took place. Arrows returning to the same district went to a different dock (as all trips were one-way.)

10 things we learned from UberBOAT:

1) Downtown Boston and the Seaport District served as the most popular pickup and dropoff locations, in both directions. This was a unique change for the water taxis which had previously seen only modest volume from the Seaport.

2) Our average UberBOAT rider started using Uber a little over a year ago. The UberBOAT cohort was a more seasoned group of riders compared the average Uber Boston rider over this time period, and they found new ways to explore the city with UberBOAT.

3) UberBOAT exposed what we’ve already been hearing around Boston — Eastie is the new cool place to be! Water taxi rides on the Uber system to and from East Boston were frequent, aided by the short trip distance between East Boston and the other docks around the harbor.

4) About 70% of UberBOAT rides carried 2 or more passengers, significantly higher than our UberLAND counterparts. Looks like UberBOATers are down to party.

5) Traveling between districts was more popular than rides returning to the same district. This means Bostonians used UberBOAT to actually get somewhere on the water rather than just taking in the scenery.

6) Even New England’s finest (and they tell me finest is a homonym in this case) athletes loved UberBOAT.

Julian Edelman, UberBOAT rider 0.

7) Deja vu! Approximately 10% of our trips were repeat riders, and 5% were repeats in the same day, implying riders doubled up on UberBOAT to make their own round trip.

8) The average UberBOAT trip was almost 20% faster than the average typical district to district route via public transportation we benchmarked against. This makes sense given the shorter distance traveled (water routes are more direct than navigating a street grid…which becomes a gridlock in traffic).

9) UberBOAT served as a replacement for users’ normal activity on the Uber system a surprising amount of the time. How much? About 17.5% of UberBOAT trips were taken along a route that riders had taken before or have taken since with another Uber product.

10) As many of you probably noticed, water taxis are popular! In fact, demand was about 7x greater than supply and was consistent throughout the promotion duration. Boston likes being on the water!

Stay tuned for more updates on UberBOAT…I suspect we haven’t heard the last of it 😉 In the meantime, thanks for riding, and a shoutout to our partner Boston Harbor Cruises; Jason Holt, Lauren Steingold and Ryan Colby of the Uber Boston Team and fellow Science Team members Jed Horne and Shan He for contributing to the analysis.

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