WASHINGTON — It’s a question D.C.-area commuters ask themselves often: “Can I just hop on Metro or should I shell out for Uber to get there faster?”
Now, a new tool aims to help commuters choose between public transit and the ride-hailing service based on where — and when — they’re traveling.
“We’re all making these individual decisions but collectively, they really impact how we move around the city,” said Ginger Moored, financial analyst in the office of D.C.’s Chief Financial Officer.
She and colleague Jeffrey Wilkins broke down the data of 116 trips around the region to determine which is faster: Metro or Uber.
The answer: It depends.
“Metro is a really efficient way to get downtown … it’s fast and cost effective. What we found is where Uber has the advantage is when there are long waits for a train which might be on the weekends or at night,” Moored said.
They took the cost of a commuter’s time into account. That includes time spent walking to the train station and waiting on the platform for a train to arrive. But Moored and Wilkins also adjusted the data based on peak travel times and up-charging on Uber rides.
“That way, with our research you can really see how the decision to take Uber or Metro changes depending on your circumstances,” she said.
Reaction to the findings have been mixed. Moored said that some see the data as reflective that Metro is doing well and proving its worth as an asset for the commuters.
“I think on the other hand, people look at the data, and they say, ‘Well actually in off peak times, Metro might start losing ridership to Uber because Uber is just more efficient. But, you have to be willing to pay a cost for a quicker ride,” Moored said.