Cities around the world, especially in developing countries, are grappling with the problem of traffic congestion. A recent study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) reports that Delhi experiences almost twelve hours of ‘peak hour traffic’. Congestion adversely impacts economic activity and worker productivity, air pollution, and fuel costs, rendering it a major scourge of cities worldwide. That ridesharing platforms reduce congestion and improve quality of urban mobility assumes that these platforms substitute private car ownership to reduce each individual’s vehicle miles travelled (VMT) and congestion. However, ridesharing platforms might draw commuters from public transport and other high occupancy shared mobility services, thereby, increasing VMT and congestion.
App-based taxi services have proliferated at a rapid pace, yet their impact on the quality of urban mobility remains unclear. Ridesharing services have a theoretically ambiguous impact on mobility: On the one hand, they may reduce private car ownership, improve utilisation, while on the other hand, they may draw commuters from public transport into using these more convenient modes of transport.
To address this lack of empirical evidence on the impacts of ridesharing platforms we use an exogenous disruption of ridesharing services in Delhi to causally estimate the impact of ridesharing platforms on congestion. Our analyses of impact are informed by granular route-level traffic data collected from Google Maps and complementary ridership data from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and other transport services."