Indian cities are 149% more congested than comparable cities around Asia

Uber, the ridesharing pioneer, today released the findings of a BCG study “Unlocking Cities: The impact of ridesharing across India”. The 40-page report was commissioned to better understand the benefits and potential of ridesharing in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Launched in the presence of Uber’s Global COO, Barney Harford, Amit Jain, President, Uber India SA, Suresh Subudhi, Partner, BCG & Ann Lavin, Senior Director, Public Policy & Government Relations, Uber APAC, this initiative reaffirms the Uber’s resolve to make a difference to congestion in the country by harnessing the promise of ridesharing and shared mobility, pivoting on data-backed solutions.

“For over 9 years now, Uber has been a pioneer in ridesharing, globally. Closer home, we continue to be at the forefront when it comes to unlocking the true potential of ridesharing for India. Through this study, we are hoping to draw the attention of administrators and urban planners on how shared cars and mobility can be part of the solution vs. individual car ownership,” said, Amit Jain, President, Uber India and South Asia.

KEY REPORT FINDINGS:

 

  • Population growth has driven an explosion in transport demand — 8x since 1980
  • Congestion is among the highest in the world. Peak congestion averages 149%. This means that, on average, commuters take 1.5 times longer to travel a given distance in peak hours compared to travel time during non-peak hours. This is currently estimated to cost just the four Indian cities (part of this study) over USD 22 billion per year
  • in peak hours compared to travel time during non-peak hours.
  • New transport infrastructure is not enough; we need to use our existing infrastructure more efficiently — such as ridesharing in private cars
  • According to the BCG survey, up to 89% of people plan to buy a new car in the next five years. However, over 79% would refrain from buying a car if ridesharing matches car ownership for affordability and convenience
  • In these circumstances, ridesharing would reduce private cars by 33-68%
  • By reducing private cars, increasing vehicle utilisation, improving public transport adoption, and optimising infrastructure planning, ridesharing could reduce congestion by 17-31%

“In the coming months, we will introduce several India first innovations that will help bring the benefits of ridesharing to many more Indians and enable us to work with the Government towards a common goal: reduce private car ownership and expand access to public transit systems. We are delighted that India has embraced shared mobility in a big way — but we still have a long way to go. Together with the Government, we aim to continue playing a key role in improving lives and cities,” added Mr. Jain.

“Cost of congestion is alarmingly high across Indian cities. We need to creatively think about increasing public transport usage and network while managing private transport growth. On-demand ride sharing is a practical way to reduce no of private vehicles on the road and reduce congestion. It is important to encourage this proactively,” said, Suresh Subudhi, Global Sector Head – Infrastructure and Transport, BCG

Providing alternatives to car ownership

Traffic jams in Indian cities are getting worse every year, and car owners are now questioning whether they should own a car at all. The level of congestion is significantly higher in Indian cities than comparable cities around Asia, averaging 149%. This means that, on average, commuters take 1.5 times longer to travel a given distance.

Among the commuters surveyed in Delhi and Mumbai, on average, 89% plan to buy a new car in the next 5 years. This underscores growing wealth in these cities and the general perception that owning a car is a symbol of success. However, 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.

”If car ownership trends continue, Indian cities risk coming to a complete standstill in only a few years,” said Barney Harford, COO of Uber. “Ridesharing can be part of the solution to traffic congestion because it uses technology to get more people into fewer cars. We can unlock our cities and their full potential, but we have to do it together.”

Accelerating public transport adoption

Overall, travel by public transport accounts for 19% and 54% of kilometres travelled in Delhi and Mumbai, respectively. The need to further improve overall quality, network reach and ease of access from feeder transport modes have been recognised as key challenge areas. Governments of both cities have indicated that maintaining control over vehicle growth and encouraging the use of public transport are their key objectives going forward. 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.

For example, in Delhi upto 22,369 acres of space can be saved by adopting rideshare (assuming rideshare substitutes for private cars), which is almost 4 times the size of Indira Gandhi Airport.

Supplementing incomes

On average 25% of the private car owners surveyed in Delhi and Mumbai expressed a keen interest in becoming rideshare drivers. An additional 43% were somewhat willing to consider the role in order to generate supplemental income. While in Kolkata and Bangalore, between 27%-37% of car owners here indicated high willingness, while an additional 40% indicated moderate willingness to drive.

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