Survey Suggests We’re Pretty Done With Ridesharing After All This

Can Uber and Lyft come back from this?

byJames Gilboy|
Culture photo

Those not fortunate enough to replace commutes with telecommutes during the rise of COVID-19 have at least been able to enjoy the silver lining of reduced road traffic, even if it has meant dodging Dominic Toretto wannabes at every turn. That pleasure, however, will be short-lived as America is returning to work with its recovery incomplete, and its situationally aware populace will do what it must to stay safe. To many Americans, that will require avoiding contact with the public wherever possible, meaning the substitution of private forms of transport for the communal—in other words, more cars, and more traffic.

Studies by CarGurus and the IBM Institute for Business Value that together surveyed roughly 26,000 American adults found that around half have developed a distrust for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. Thirty-nine percent of the former's 722 respondents said they plan to use less or no ride-shares whatsoever from here on out, and more than half of the latter's 25,000-plus respondents said similar. The IBM survey also found that 24 percent will cease using ride share-adjacent services like taxis, even though taxis may be less than a hundredth as germy your average Uber according to a 2019 study.

Some 28 percent of IBM respondents who take public transport such as buses or trains said they will use these modes of mobility less often, and more than 20 percent said they will stop entirely. People still need to get around, though, and they will default to the safest way they know, that being the car. Seventeen percent of those surveyed by IBM and 49 percent by CarGurus said they will use their own vehicles more, and around 25 percent said they'll use their private forms of transport exclusively from here on out.

To that end, 41 percent of those surveyed by CarGurus said they soon "expect to purchase a vehicle," be it a replacement for their current car or a new set of wheels to augment it. Regardless of whether they purchase cars new as automakers want them to or seek a bargain on the used market, it looks like traffic after the shutdown is going to be even worse than it was before. If there were any time to live off-grid in a van for a while—despite the challenges of such a lifestyle in the age of coronavirus—this might be it.

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