Uber? Lyft? Taxi? The best and worst ways to travel, ranked

In well-off cities, transportation options seem to be expanding every month. Uber and Lyft are older news; dockless bikes and scooters are here; aerial taxis and autonomous shuttles are edging onto the horizon.

What ride-hailing services are already doing to cities may be a worst-case harbinger of what driverless vehicles will bring: less support for public transportation, more congestion, and indeed more travel overall, as the disappearing need to physically operate vehicles

To be honest, it doesn’t really matter on how you eventually choose to travel, whether it be for a year long round the world, a week at a resort, or a weekend camping trip at your local national park. what matter most is that you are doing something that you enjoy and makes you happy.

Time can be traded off, depending on how you value it. And when it comes to the time we spend traveling, that value is in flux.

Evidence indicates that Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNCs) are drawing them off buses and trains and into their backseats. Riders are choosing to shell out more for a speedier TNC journey where they can enjoy not having to drive.

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The major reasons why consumers choose an on-demand ride—or indeed a carpooled on-demand ride—over public transit in one major world city depends on the means of transportation.

For decades, around the world, people have tended to spend 60 to 90 minutes per day on moving from place to place—the heftiest time allocation to any activity after work and sleep. But as work, travel, leisure, and rest become untethered from the discrete locations where they once took place, it is becoming harder to say how our time is apportioned, and therefore how we should value it.

UBER

Uber isn’t always the faster choice, as anyone ever caught in a thicket of traffic after a rush-hour ride-hail knows. Sometimes other trade-offs are more important.On the one hand, it’s convenient. On the other hand, data.

March 2018, Schwieterman, Livingston, and a group of researchers gathered data on 610 different journeys around Chicago. For each possible origin and destination, they compared the cost, duration, and convenience factors between five options:

Lyft, Lyft Line, Uber, UberPool, or Chicago Transit Authority. That added up to a sample of 3,075 trips, collected by searching the apps and the fastest transit travel estimate on Google Maps. To keep as many variables constant as possible, most of the trips either started or ended on the city’s north and northwest sides, and about 60 percent passed through downtown. All the trips were between 4 to 11 miles, the range within which Uber and Lyft compete most for transit riders.

LYFT

These are no good either. First, the car has a mustache. It is enough to have to see mustaches on the faces of the hipsters you encounter every day without cars sporting them, too. Who do these cars think they are, William Howard Taft? Second, you are supposed to sit in the front as though you and the driver are friends.

Already this is a mistake. Even in cars with my actual friends I almost never sit in the front, and I don’t know what to do there at all. Sitting in front guarantees that when you run out of conversation (and you inevitably do) it will be acutely, awkwardly, painfully noticeable. You never have more conversation than ride. This is an ironclad rule.

Evidence also indicates that Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNCs) are drawing them off buses and trains and into their backseats. Riders are choosing to shell out more for a speedier TNC journey where they can enjoy not having to drive.

BICYCLE

It is impossible to bicycle in a city for any length of time before you become consumed by it, grow insufferable and start writing letters to the newspaper and wearing odd shorts, a phase from which many bikers never recover.

HORSE

Horses have personality (equine-ality?) but never attempt to talk to you. If horses were there standing outside bars at the end of the night ready to take you home, I would use this option more. But this does not happen outside of movies set in the Old West.

BUS

I actually enjoy the bus, because it is like sitting quietly in a big room full of silent, disapproving people and consequently reminds me of my childhood. You can read a book or listen to music, and you don’t need to talk to anyone. In theory, anyway.

In practice it is not always that simple. Once a total stranger talked very earnestly to me about her relationship with her father for the entire ride, even though I was in high school and clearly had no insights to offer. Another time someone on my bus decided to clip her nails, and the trouble with buses at such times is that there is no way to eject yourself immediately and boil everything you are wearing.

travel overall, as the disappearing need to physically operate vehicles removes a major inconveniencing factor.

That also means how we value the time we spend traveling will change, as Patricia L. Mokhtarian, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has observed in extensive research. Already, there is evidence that Millennial travelers value the travel time saved by riding one mode over another less than older generations, chiefly because they’re so accustomed to using laptops in the backseat.

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