- With two graduate students, Erdhardt pulled publicly available ridership and system data for 22 U.S. metropolitan areas from 2002 to April 2018 (the freshest information available) from the National Transit Database. They then conducted a regression analysis to determine which of a list of possible variables could best explain the declines. Alongside the boom in ride-hailing (from the start of market entry), they studied the effects of other likely culprits, such as fare changes, population, employment rates, the share of car-free households, the presence of bikesharing, and gas prices. All of these datapoints came from open, public sources, including the Census Bureau.
Many of these factors had some relationship to ridership trends—some positive, some negative. The introduction of Uber and Lyft fell in the latter category, Erdhardt found. In the 22 markets served by ride-hailing, ride-hailing companies were shown to further drag down boardings as they grew over time.
That effect looks slight from year to year. But added it up, it’s substantial. “After 8 years, [ride-hailing services] would be associated with a 12.7 percent decrease in bus ridership,” the study states.