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John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171
jtownsend@aaamidatlantic.com

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Tuesday, August 21, 2018) –– Ride-hailing services are a popular and convenient transportation option, but a new AAA analysis shows they are not a cost-effective replacement for vehicle ownership. The average driver in an urban area– the only setting in which using these services are a practical full-time transportation option – drives 10,841 miles per year.

 

While urban drivers travel fewer miles than those living in smaller towns or rural areas, relying on ride-hailing services as a primary mode of transportation would cost $20,118 annually, compared to $21,093 annually in the nation’s capital. This equates to more than twice the cost of owning a personal vehicle, even when factoring in the expense of fuel, insurance, parking and the vehicle itself.

 

“Whether you own a vehicle or not, ride-hailing services are a convenient transportation option,” said John Nielsen, managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. “However, with the average American city-dweller driving nearly 11,000 miles per year, a personal vehicle is still the more cost-effective choice.”

 

For the study, AAA analyzed the costs of ride-hailing services (including the use of an occasional rental car) in 20 major urban areas. Based on the average number of miles traveled by city-dwellers, annual ride-hailing costs are as follows:

 

Atlanta

$17,741

Nashville

$26,397

Austin

$19,821

New York

$21,279

Baltimore

$19,917

Philadelphia

$23,201

Boston

$27,545

Phoenix

$17,436

Chicago

$22,020

Pittsburgh

$18,940

Cleveland

$20,091

Salt Lake City

$18,866

Dallas

$16,944

San Diego

$17,316

Denver

$20,434

San Francisco

$21,972

Los Angeles

$17,951

Seattle

$23,951

Miami

$17,339

Washington, D.C.

$21,093

 

In June, the District Council voted to raise the tax on ride-hailing services, including Lyft and Uber, and other so called mobility disruptors” to undergird funding for Metro. Each day, drivers make 639,000 vehicles trips within Washington, D.C. proper. No one has provided exact figures on the number of ride-hailing trips in the Washington metro area. The TPB estimates Uber and Lyft make about “123,000 trips per day around here.” Another estimate pegs the number of people registering their vehicles as “ride-hailing vehicles” tops 185,000 would be drivers in the region. However, area commuters make 1,305,000 vehicle trips to and from the District daily. It’s 1.9 million vehicle trips per workday in the nation’s capital, notes AAA. By 2016, 37.3 percent of households (104,862) in Washington didn’t have personal vehicles, compared to 36.2 percent (101,954 households) during 2015, reveals the 2016 American Community Survey.

 

“No doubt, there will be some pushback on the findings from some skeptics, naysayers, consumers and advocacy groups who are all-in going car-free. But going car-free is not free,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Check the methodology, double-check the findings and deconstruct the analysis. When evaluating transportation costs, many studies use basic calculations that fail to take into consideration the true costs associated with the average American’s transportation experience. For example, some studies only evaluate commuting costs, neglecting to consider personal trips, while others are based on low-cost, shared (carpooling) methods of ride-hailing that may not appeal to all users.”

 

The average annual cost to own and operate a new vehicle, the costliest form of vehicle ownership, is $7,321 for 10,841 miles of travel annually, according to data from AAA’s annual Your Driving Costs study. Understanding that parking costs can be a major ownership expense for those living in urban areas, AAA also analyzed the costs of flat-rate parking per year, which ranges from $706 (Phoenix) to $8,088 (New York), with an average cost of $2,728. For those with access to free parking, relying on ride-hailing services is nearly three times more expensive than vehicle ownership in these cities.

           

“For those who travel a very limited number of miles annually, or have mobility issues that prevent them from driving a personal vehicle, ride-hailing can be a viable and important option,” continued Nielsen. “But, for everyone else: the car is still king.”

 

Vehicle owners looking to minimize their operating costs should consider the following:

 

·         Buy (gently) used – Depreciation is the single largest expense for vehicle owners. By driving a pre-owned vehicle in good condition, ownership costs are significantly lower. A safe, reliable vehicle can be found at an attractive price point.

·         Fuel responsibly – Avoid wasting money on premium gasoline unless your vehicle specifically requires it and, if you’re one of the 20 percent of Americans considering an electric car, these vehicles offer lower fuel and maintenance costs.

·         Show your car some love – It sounds counterintuitive, but spending money on routine maintenance can actually save you money in the end. To keep engines running longer, consider switching to synthetic oil and upgrading to TOP TIER™ gasoline.

·         Slow down – When gas prices are high, small changes in the way you drive can make a big difference.

 

To determine the average number of miles traveled by a city-dweller, AAA’s analysis leveraged data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s American Driving Survey. AAA’s Your Driving Costs data served as the basis for all car ownership calculations, factoring in depreciation, fuel, maintenance, repair, financing, insurance, license, registration costs and taxes.

 

Total cost of ride-hailing is based on data from 243,838 economy-level, single rider trips in 20 U.S. urban areas and does not factor in costs associated with carpooling or multimodal transportation options. On average, those using ride-hailing services spent an average of $13.15 per trip, spending 15.11 minutes and traveling 6.66 miles. Ride-hailing costs include the occasional use of rental vehicles for longer distance travel. Full methodology can be found in the study’s fact sheet: AAA National Newsroom. 

 

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Washington, D.C. Mailing Address:
1405 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and nearly 78,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit  http://aaa.com

TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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