(Chanra Kiran Krishnamurthy and Nicole Ngo)
Ride Hailing Companies, such as Uber, have become a significant component of urban transportation over the past decade, and have affected many aspects of transportation, including transit, air pollution, traffic patterns and congestion. The effects of Uber, in particular, upon traffic patterns and pollution can be ambiguous, since it depends upon its relation to transit and private vehicle usage. We empirically identify the effect of Uber upon traffic and air pollution in California using a panel difference-in-differences design, exploiting variation in the entry of Uber into different counties in California, and hourly traffic data on California's freeways along with daily pollution level data from all pollution monitors in California. Our detailed traffic data suggests that congestion is reduced following Uber's entry to a county. However, the use of hourly data enables us to conclude that much of this reduction is in the off-peak time periods of the day, while congestion during the evening rush hour may actually increase. We also find a reduction in PM2.5 following Uber's entry, but no change in the concentration of other pollutants associated with vehicle emissions, specifically NO2, ozone and CO.
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