Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center published a report examining the way people travel — specifically, by car, and on an even more micro-level, by using a ride-hailing service, like Lyft or Uber.
In 2018, the study found, the share of U.S. adults who indicated having used a ride-hailing service more than doubled since 2015 — jumping from 15% to 36%.
However, not all of these consumers may use ride-hailing services on a regular basis — with the study also finding that only 4% said they do so on a weekly basis.
The companies behind these ride-hailing apps — with the two top “contenders” arguably being Lyft and Uber — have seen somewhat tumultuous times in recent years.
Toward the end of 2018, both companies filed for IPO in rapid succession. Both are in a race to become the leader in self-driving car technology, often leading to serious problems, such as when one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year.
With all the ups and downs, how prevalent is ride-hailing app use among the general public? To find out, we conducted a census-style survey of over 4,100 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada. Here’s what we learned.
How Many People Use Ride-Hailing Apps?
First, we asked: “Have you ever used a ride-hailing app, like Lyft or Uber?”
More than half of respondents indicated that they have never used a ride-hailing app, aligning with the Pew Research Center's findings -- which found that 36% have used such a service before, compared to our 37%.
We also wanted to get an idea of which ride-hailing app people say they use the most. So, we asked: “Which ride-hailing app have you use the most?”
Out of respondents who do use ride-hailing apps, there was an split between the top use cases for ride-hailing apps selected by respondents -- with 15% selecting both getting to work and getting to social events as their primary purpose for using these services.
Then, we wanted to learn how people use these apps the most. We ran a similar question, but required respondents to pick one primary ride-hailing app use case, asking: “Which of the following reason describes your primary purpose for using ride-hailing apps?”
Out of respondents who do use ride-hailing apps, the highest number of respondents -- 12% -- said that they primarily do so to get to work.
The Future of Ride-Hailing
Based on these combined findings, it could be possible that ride-hailing apps and services are more popular -- and more frequently used -- in urban areas and cities where residents are less likely to own or need cars.
But as we've learned from the month's events -- especially the takeover of wellness-related technology at CES -- parts of the industry is turning its focus to new areas and user groups, such as aging populations that might become more reliant on ride-hailing services, which has been core to a recent Uber advertising campaign.
And as more tech companies expand with broader audiences in mind, so could market permeation and use follow -- with ride-hailing being no exception.
Originally published Jan 22, 2019 7:00:00 AM, updated December 11 2019