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Uber Tests Again & San Francisco Traffic Woes: Here’s Your Ride Share Roundup

With so many of us hailing an Uber or Lyft (and leaving our cars at home), you’d think that would lessen traffic woes in super-dense cities like San Francisco. But the city by the bay is feeling anything but spared in the too-many-cars department.

More Rides, More Traffic

According to a new study conducted by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the average travel speeds during those dreaded morning commute hours have dropped by about 26 percent since 2009. In the evening, as folks head home, speeds dropped roughly 27 percent.

The study found that vehicle hours of delay on the major roadways "increased by 40,000 hours on a typical weekday, while vehicle miles traveled on major roadways increased by over 630,000 miles on a typical weekday." Ouch.

The SFCTA estimates that rides given by transportation network companies (TNCs) make up about 15 percent of all intra-San Francisco car trips, with the area’s residents, workers and visitors making over 1 million Uber, Lyft or other ride-hailing app trips in San Francisco every week.

The Hefty Price Of Convenience

We all know how convenient it is to hail a ride, not to mention how it has improved mobility for scores of riders, and is more affordable than taxis. The trouble is, these apps are also contributing to packed streets and even longer commutes (in a city that ranks fifth in the world for worst traffic congestion).

The data collected by the SFCTA indicates that roughly 50 percent of the surge in congestion in the bay area between 2010 and 2016 is due to these ride-hailing companies. The agency looked at three measures of congestion: hours of delay, miles traveled and average speeds. The other factors that are causing this headache-inducing gridlock? Employment and population growth. So while it’s great there are more jobs in this tech-heavy hub, having to deal with the traffic that comes with it isn’t as great.

On The Road Again

Nearly nine months after one of its autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Uber will resume its testing of self-driving cars on public roads.

According to a variety of media outlets including MSN, the company announced it had submitted an application to resume its autonomous car testing with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and, in a 2018 Safety Report, it vowed to utilize a variety of improved safety measures to restore faith in its self-driving cars. The company ceased its autonomous driving operations on public roads following the crash in the spring of 2018.

According to The Washington Post, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in early November that the ride-hailing company would start up road tests of its autonomous vehicles only after putting "improved processes" into place.

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