This is a white paper prepared for the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty Federal Highway Administration.


A new study by SUMC for the Transit Cooperative Research Program finds that peak use of transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft comes on weekends and evenings, not during rush hours when public-transit use is highest. SUMC’s findings were based on one of the first uses of origin-destination trip data provided by a major TNC. This finding was presented in TCRP Report 195, Broadening Understanding of the Interplay between Public Transit, Shared Mobility, and Personal Automobiles.

“Public transit is the backbone of any urban transportation system,” said Sharon Feigon, SUMC’s executive director. “Having this data and doing this study gave us a lot of new insights. In a congested environment, generally nothing is more efficient at moving lots of people than public transit. But we can see where TNCs fit into the gaps where the transit systems don’t work as well. People want flexibility and frequency and services like Uber and Lyft are filling in the gaps. We want to create an ecosystem of choices to create a multimodal system that can work for all.”


By any measure, Uber’s seven-year entrepreneurial journey has been extraordinary. No venture has ever raised more capital, grown as fast, operated more globally, reached as lofty a valuation — or lost as much money as Uber.

Last month, Uber reported a third-quarter loss of nearly $1.5 billion, bringing its 2017 year-to-date red ink to $3.2 billion. Losses of this magnitude are clearly not sustainable, and call for an explanation of why Uber has been unable to rein in ballooning costs and what it will need to do to survive, let alone prosper.

Key Supporters