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How Economic Inequality And Ride-Sharing May Impact How Long You Are Stuck In Traffic

A new study looking at how much time people spend stuck in traffic links widespread economic inequality to a lack of access to public transportation.  

The study,  “Stuck in Traffic,” from the Miami Urban Future Initiative, ranked Miami as having the 12th-worst traffic congestion in country. According to the report, the average commuter loses 100 hours of time in gridlock on roadways each year.

Florida International University professor Richard Florida and New York University professor Steven Pedigo are the co-authors of the report, and Pedigo joined Sundial to break down the report's findings, explain how ride-sharing is affecting traffic and discuss the link between transportation and income inequality.

This interview has been edited lightly for clarity. 

WLRN: What should we be doing to convince people that carpooling is cool and ride-sharing is the way to go?

PEDIGO: When you look at [New York and San Francisco] they have a much more robust public transportation system and it is a part of their culture to take public transportation. In those cities when we look at the number of people there are more people biking and walking to work in those urban environments. In Miami, we have to think about development and look at the densification of our communities and our downtowns to think about how we could design our areas to facilitate more people to bike and walk to work.

What is the extent ride-sharing has helped change [things] for better or worse? Is it having an impact?

The thought about ride-sharing was the idea that it would encourage people to consider either carpooling with their colleagues or carpooling with their companions, but one of the things that we know about ridesharing is that in fact that Uber and Lyft, particularly in other places like New York, have actually increased the amount of cars on the roadway. One of the things that we have to think about with ride-sharing is how do we balance [more cars]? When we look at the impact ride-sharing is having on public transportation overall it is eating into some of the public transportation.

South Florida's biggest problem is too many cars on the road with just one person in them.

What's happening with ride-sharing is that the cost of ride-sharing is a lot of times not much more inexpensive than maybe taking public transportation from a long distance. The impact that has had is encouraging people to select maybe a ride-sharing as opposed to taking public transportation.

South Florida [also has widespread] economic inequality. How [do the issues] of economic inequality and traffic congestion come together?

We know from our previous study that when we look at income inequality South Florida has the highest income inequality in the country. It is on par with countries like Colombia. The idea of income inequality and the access to transit is: Our region is becoming much more expensive for people to live in it and as it becomes more expensive that means that folks are moving further away. This is extending their commutes. Having less access to public transportation is very much linked to the affordability challenges, income inequality and the access to transportation.

You can read the full report here: 

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