Small price cut could encourage ride-sharing, study finds

Paper points to potential solutions for city authorities trying to reduce congestion and pollution

A photo illustration shows the Uber app logo displayed on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
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A little saving would make people a lot more willing to share rides from apps such as Uber, according to a new study.

Ride-hailing apps include the potential for passengers to share taxis to reduce costs but people have proved unwilling to take advantage, according to the study published on Tuesday in Nature Communications scientific journal.

Research based on the analysis of 360 million ride requests from the US cities of Chicago and New York in 2019 suggests that a small price cut could encourage passengers to share rides  – helping cities reduce congestion and car emissions.

The researchers found that ride-sharing was most effective in areas of high traffic with many people taking similar journeys.

But the researchers from Austria and Germany said that society’s attitudes also needed to change to make sharing taxi rides more acceptable.

The study was carried out before the Covid-19 pandemic, when people were more likely to share a taxi.

“A carefully designed incentive structure for ride-sharing users adapted to local user preferences is essential to drive this change,” the paper says.