22 April 2019
A study commissioned by Uber says ridesharing can reduce private vehicles on the road by 40% and ease traffic congestion by 90%. Photo: HKEJ
A study commissioned by Uber says ridesharing can reduce private vehicles on the road by 40% and ease traffic congestion by 90%. Photo: HKEJ

Ridesharing could ease HK traffic congestion by 90%: study

Traffic congestion in Hong Kong could ease by as much as 90 percent if ridesharing takes root among the city’s citizens, a study says. 

According to a report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Hongkongers are stuck in traffic jam for 52 minutes every day, and also spend more than 30 minutes trying to looking for parking spots.

If ridesharing becomes a common practice among private vehicle owners, it can lead to a substantial reduction in the vehicle ownership ratio in the city and ease traffic congestion in the long run, BCG said in the study, which was commissioned by ride-hailing services firm Uber.

According to Vincent Chin, BCG senior partner and managing director, if ridesharing becomes the mainstream private mode of transport, the number of private vehicles on the roads in the city will slide by over 40 percent.

That will, in turn, alleviate traffic jams by 90 percent, he said.

Uber commissioned the study as part of its “Unlocking Cities” campaign to assess the potential benefits that could accrue to various cities from bigger adoption of ridesharing.

Despite the study, there are some who are not entirely convinced about the expected benefits, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun, former chairman of the board of Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, for instance, said he is concerned that ridesharing could lead to reduced usage of public transport systems and more private vehicle on the road.

Chin, however, dismissed the argument, pointing out that their study across nine different cities has revealed that there were no signs that ridesharing was replacing mainstream transport.

He cited San Francisco as an example, saying nearly half of the ridesharing routes have their start points and end points in public transport interchanges, showing ridesharing and public transport can complement each other.

Chin said the penetration rate and usage of ridesharing in Asia is still not comparable to that of North America, where ridesharing is more prevalent.

The driving culture in foreign countries has witnessed a drastic change in recent years, Chin said. In San Francisco, many young people would prefer to buy a pricy smartphone, rather than a second-hand car, he noted.

Professor Bernard Vincent Lim, honorary adjunct professor at the School of Architecture of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that Hong Kong had in the past relied on road construction as its core of urban planning development. That’s why a large number of roads were built.

If ridesharing can help ease the traffic congestion, it could give rise to surplus roads, which can then be transformed into public spaces for citizens to use, he said.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 13

Translation by Jonathan Chong

[Chinese version 中文版]

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