Even though ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have been in the metro area for about four years, in all honesty, I never used either one until the Super Bowl “invaded” the Twin Cities. I was planning on heading to a friend’s pre-game party but didn’t want to mess with taking the Green Line, let alone getting in my car and dealing with traffic.
While I knew the wait might be a little long and the fare might be a little steep, I decided to finally see what the ridesharing craze was all about. The last time I accepted a ride from a stranger was when I looked for a ride from Duluth to St. Paul during my freshman year in college. I found my driver on a “ride share” board on campus, and all I needed to do was give him a $20 towards gas, and I bought him a stick of Beef Jerky and a Red Bull at the gas station.
I put in my request for an Uber at around noon on Super Bowl Sunday and got picked up around 30 minutes later. The ride was decent, the car was clean, the driver handled traffic well, and I spent about the same as I would have if I had taken a taxi service (after using the online fare estimator).
When I arrived at my friend’s party, I told everyone how impressed I was with ridesharing, and everyone gave me a hard time; clearly, I was the only one who hadn’t utilized the service until now. Even though I’m a late bloomer to using Lyft and Uber, just taking one trip, I can see the positive impact it can have in large cities like ours.
Hey Minnesotans, Look familiar?
Drunk Driving and the Economy
Even though the official report isn’t in yet for the number of drunk driving arrests, during Super Bowl Sunday, Minneapolis Police are reported as saying that there were fewer arrests made than they expected.
With all the transportation options available (besides one’s own vehicle), there should never be any drunk driving incidents, but we all know this is still a prevalent issue in our state. According to the latest data available, there were 95 roadway fatalities involving a drunk driver and about 25,000 DWI arrests.
We don’t know how many drunk drivers are prevented with Lyft or Uber, but it most likely makes some kind of positive impact. Some research shows that Uber and Lyft have reduced the number of drunk driving incidents in larger cities like Austin, Texas.
Even if we don’t have solid stats to tell us otherwise, we definitely know that if we can get one drunk driver off the road, we’re all a little bit safer. I was able to relax (and drink) knowing that I didn’t have to figure out a way to get home after the party; I had an Uber ride all lined up.
While ridesharing services are controversial in the sense that they “steal” business away from taxi services throughout larger cities, it can help boost the economy. First off, it allows more people to join the gig economy and have an option to earn money away from the 9 to 5 corporate life.
If people have a safe way to get around (like when using Lyft or Uber), they are more likely to go out and spend money at a bar or restaurant rather than spending frugally just to make sure they have enough for parking.
Impacts on Congestion and the Environment
Ask any Minnesotan if traffic is nightmarish, and many will say, “yes.” While it’s true that Twin Cities traffic doesn’t even come close to congestion in Los Angeles, it can still be downright unpleasant.According to the INRIX 2017 Traffic Scorecard Report, Minneapolis ranked #85 for traffic congestion and is the 15th worst city for traffic in the U.S. Even though Uber and Lyft aren’t magical solutions to traffic congestion; it can certainly help.
Even though Minnesota has some decent rankings when it comes to air quality and overall environmental health, we all know that it could be better and reducing the number of cars on the road could help. Again, even though taking Uber on a regular basis won’t solve all of our noise and air pollutant issues, it may reduce the number of cars on our roads.
Many Minnesotans love their cars and like to be in control behind the wheel (I know that I do), but if you haven’t used a ride share service yet, give it a try. Not a resident of the Twin Cities? Ridesharing services have also expanded past the metro into areas like Rochester, Mankato, St. Cloud, and Fargo.
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