Five years in, a closer look at Uber’s impact in San Francisco

In 2010, Uber started with a modest goal — to better enable San Franciscans to more easily and reliably get around their city. Five years later, Uber now coordinates millions of rides in San Francisco and the surrounding area every month, helping to bring the city’s people, businesses, and neighborhoods closer together.

This week, San Francisco will play host to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Nearly 300 of America’s mayors will discuss the economic health of the nation’s cities and share best practices for enhancing the livability of our urban areas. To mark this occasion, we decided to take a closer look at the impact of Uber in the City by the Bay. Here’s what we found:

Uber riders have near-instant access to rides throughout the entire city, at all times of day or night. Riders in San Francisco wait 2-3 minutes on average before their driver arrives. In every neighborhood of the city, riders can rest assured that when they press “REQUEST,” a driver will arrive in just a few minutes.

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Uber is affordable. By comparing real taxi fares on Uber’s taxi product, uberTAXI, to the computed fare had that ride been completed on uberX, we found that uberX is 30% less expensive, on average, than a taxi in San Francisco.

Uber creates opportunities for well-paying and flexible work. Uber provides access to better earning opportunities to tens of thousands of drivers in San Francisco. In April 2015, driver-partners providing rides on uberX and uberPOOL earned an average hourly income of $25/hour, net of all of Uber’s fees. Uber driver-partners also choose exactly when and for how long they work, logging on to the platform when their kids are in school, for example, or when demand is highest.

Uber helps drive down DUI rates. At the end of the night, San Franciscans now have a reliable way to get home safely. Research conducted at Temple University by Professors Brad N. Greenwood and Sunil Wattal estimates that Uber’s entrance into various markets in California over the course of several years caused an approximate 5% drop in alcohol-related driving fatalities.

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Uber can help reduce congestion on San Francisco’s streets. Uber’s carpooling option, uberPOOL, allows riders traveling along a similar route to share the cost of a ride, taking up less road space and requiring less fuel per rider. Already, nearly half of all uberX rides in San Francisco are uberPOOL trips. uberPOOL holds the promise of making car ownership will become more of a luxury than an economic necessity for many city residents.

Uber can change San Francisco.  As the number of private cars in the city decreases, so will demand for parking spaces. With land in San Francisco valued at almost $1,000 per square foot, the city’s parking spaces represent more than $44 billion in value that could be repurposed and put to use serving residents in more productive ways.

But the most exciting element of Uber’s impact in San Francisco is that the access, affordability, and opportunity benefits set out above are just the start. In the coming months and years, Uber’s impact will grow and evolve as its technology improves and its network expands.

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