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Uber vs. Car Ownership: Which Is Cheaper?

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author photo by Lindsay Martell June 2018

You grab an Uber for the convenience factor, but did you ever think regular rides via the app could be cheaper than owning a car?

According to analyst Mary Meeker's 2018 Internet Trends report, in four of the five largest U.S. cities, it may cost less to replace car ownership with a ride-sharing service such as Uber. Meeker compared UberX and UberPOOL commute costs to the price of owning a car -- including maintenance, the cost of fuel, insurance and parking fees.

The report, which was released in late May, gives details on how commuters in New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles spend less weekly when commuting and running errands using Uber than they would when riding in their own vehicle. According to the data, "People are buying fewer cars, keeping them longer, and shifting transportation spending to rideshare, which saw rides double in 2017."

In New York City, the weekly commute costs $218, whereas using Uber to get to and from work is just $142. In Chicago, driving your car costs $181 per week, while hailing Uber will run you a mere $65. In our nation's capital, making the trek in your own car requires $130, while the ride-sharing app is $96. In Los Angeles, the numbers break down to $89 for personal car use versus $62 for Uber.

It's worth noting that UberPOOL -- where riders agree to share rides with others for a significant discount -- may be feasible on a semi-regular basis, but may not work for commuters needing to clock in at a certain time each day.

Last year, Business Insider found that cars are used just 4 percent of the time, yet we spend around $35,000 on a new vehicle. Most of the time we spend behind the wheel is in congested traffic snarls. Their summary? If the full cost of ownership is accounted for, they found that potentially one-quarter of the entire U.S. driving population might be better off using ride services instead of owning a car.

Something to think about for those living in big cities who may want to lessen their load as they hit the road.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Uber vs. Car Ownership: Which Is Cheaper? - Autotrader