I remember the first time I really knew ridesharing was catching on. We hosted a birthday extravaganza for one of our kids years ago, and one by one parents came by to pick up their 9- or 10-year-old children after the party died down. But one boy, when asked if he had someone to get him, said something along the lines of “Don’t worry about it, I called an Uber.”
I may or may not have had the Uber app on my iPhone at that point, and may or not have actually used it. But today, of course, millions of people including me use services such as Uber, Lyft and Fasten to get around, and the industry has garnered the attention of powerful outfits such as Google and Tesla.
Massachusetts is a hotbed for the transportation alternatives, and the state, which has rolled out legislation to regulate the ridesharing industry, on Tuesday released a Rideshare in Massachusetts website/report full of data about transportation network company (TNC) usage in 2017.
It highlighted some big numbers:
*About 64.8 million rideshares started in Massachusetts
*Roughly 34.9 million of those originated in Boston
*The average length of a trip is 4.5 miles
It comes as no surprise that Wellesley residents are robust ridesharing users even though we have more than our fair share of cars, not to mention good access to public transportation. Not only are we within striking distance of where the action is — Boston and Cambridge — but many residents are deep-pocketed enough to think nothing of dropping $70-$100 for the roundtrip excursion. Not to say that isn’t a bargain when you factor in not getting behind the wheel after carousing downtown and avoiding exorbitant Cambridge and Boston parking rates. What’s more, many in town use ridesharing for just plain old shuttles within town, and then of course we have 3 colleges in town.
Wellesley ranks #27 in the state out of 351 towns and cities in total ridesharing trips started here with 193,377 — note that this doesn’t mean these were all Wellesley residents — and #22 in trips started per person at 6.91 (Cambridge is #1 with 64.49 rides started per person).
The average speed of a ridesharing trip in Wellesley is 26mph, slow enough to keep your travel plans from getting interrupted by Wellesley Police in most parts of town. The average in the state is 17.7 mph, and half of all municipalities had an average speed of 30mph or greater.
This first batch of data sheds interesting light on the impact of ridesharing in town, a topic that rates a brief mention in the Wellesley Unified Plan draft. It also whets our appetite to know more, such as what impact all this Ubering, Lyfting, etc., is having on Wellesley’s traffic, how it is affecting the price of real estate near public transportation, and how many Wellesley residents are actually doing any of the rideshare driving.
Disclaimer: I currently work for the state at EOTSS but was not involved in this ridesharing data project.