Ride-hailing services disrupting ambulances and airports

By Logan Dredske

New reports have indicated unanticipated disruptions caused by ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Previously, SSTI discussed the positive and negative impacts ride-hailing services have on our transportation systems. Although these new reports focus on changes to ambulance services and airport revenues, they highlight again that ride-hailing services are fundamentally changing our transportation systems.

A recent study, conducted by the University of Kansas and Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, compared ambulance usage in 766 cities before and after Uber entered the city. Results showed that Uber reduced per capita ambulance use by at least seven percent. Plausible reasons for decreases in ambulance usage are 1) patients previously using an ambulance in non-emergencies due to lack of alternate means of transport, 2) ride-hailing improving individuals’ ability to choose which hospital they attend, and 3) increases in ambulance transportation cost.

Airports are also beginning to feel an impact from ride-hailing services. A report from the National Academies Press describes how fewer people are parking, using taxis, or renting cars to get to and from airports. Parking, taxis, and rental cars all involve fees or contracts that serve as revenue streams for airports. These services are being replaced by more convenient ride-hailing services, causing decreases in these revenue streams. In response, airports have begun to implement pick up and drop off restrictions for ride-hailing services. However, due to state legislation requirements, only airports in 23 states can impose such regulations. Airports such as Jacksonville International have begun to incentivize parking in hopes of regaining the lost revenue. For a monthly fee at Jacksonville International, drivers are guaranteed a parking space within 200 feet of their terminal and gain access to accelerated security lanes. Logan International Airport in Boston is another airport combating revenue losses due to ride-hailing services. However, they have taken a different approach toward a solution. Massachusetts Port Authority, the owner of Logan International, aims to improve public transit to the airport. Recently they agreed to offset a large parking expansion at the airport with an impressive list of transit improvements.

Logan Dredske is a Project Assistant at SSTI.