Ridesharing – a concept that has definitely made lives easier for a lot of us living in congested cities, tired of spending a considerable portion of our salary on petrol, trying to make a rhythmic pattern of clutch and brake, listening to honking cars, breathing polluted air, and at times finding a little fun in traffic led fights! It was a daily routine for a lot of us, until ridesharing brought some relief to state of being.

While ridesharing or pooling a car has been adopted by a lot of us in metro cities, we at Uber were really keen to assess if it was creating a significant bearing. Thus we launched the Boston Consulting Group’s study: “Unlocking Cities: The impact of ridesharing across India”. With this commissioned report, we wanted to understand the benefits and true potential of ridesharing in reducing congestion in the four top metros in India – Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore. The report has revealed some really interesting and alarming facts that all of us, as responsible Indians, should recognize and take necessary action by encouraging and adopting ridesharing.

As per the BCG report, congestion is currently estimated to cost just the four Indian cities over USD 22 billion per year! The level of congestion is significantly higher in Indian cities than comparable cities around Asia, averaging 149%, with car ownership being one prominent reason. This means that, on average, commuters take 1.5 times longer to travel a given distance.

While traffic is already at its peak, on an average, 89% of commuters surveyed in Delhi and Mumbai plan to buy a new car in the next 5 years. But there are many who understand the impact that traffic and congestion create and will be creating on our lives.

So what should be the way forward?

Providing alternatives to car ownership

Interestingly, over 79% of the respondents who plan to purchase a car also indicated that they would consider aborting their purchase plans, should the availability and timeliness of ridesharing equal or exceed private car ownership. Substituting ridesharing for private cars could eliminate between 33%-68% of the total cars on the road in these cities—going a long way towards eliminating congestion during peak hours.

Accelerating public transport adoption

Overall, travel by public transport accounts for 20% and 55% of kilometres travelled in Delhi and Mumbai, respectively. This is where ridesharing has the potential to act as a feeder to public transport, particularly if applications and incentives are developed to encourage intermodal transport usage. Outlying areas without easy access to public transport would particularly benefit, if there is a sufficient number of rideshare drivers to serve those areas.

Optimising infrastructure timing and location

The study found that rideshare vehicle deliver on average 1.4-3.3 times more passenger-kilometres compared to private vehicles

By incentivising ridesharing, studies indicate — in this optimal scenario, a reduction of 33%-68% in private cars could reduce congestion by 17%-31% across these cities. Consequently, this could significantly help these cities improve their amenity by saving approximately 760 to 22,000 acres of unnecessary parking space in each city.

Click here for the detailed report.