ASU researchers: Uber helps cut down on Valley traffic

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(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

What would a 1 percent reduction in traffic look like in the Valley? A lot of gas and time saved, according to Arizona State University researchers. They say it's already happened thanks to popular ride-sharing apps like Uber.

It’s a commuter's daily struggle -- traffic on Valley freeways often reduced to a crawl during rush hour.

"It’s usually pretty bad, and on a good day they're going like 20 miles per hour," said Uber user Rachel Bunning.

Some researchers at ASU were curious if the ride-hailing app Uber was doing anything to cut down on congestion. They did some serious number crunching and discovered what some are calling the "Uber effect."

They found since Uber rolled into town in 2012, it has saved Valley drivers 1 million gallons of gas, almost 2 million hours in travel time and $44 million.

"It’s amazing. We didn't expect it to be so large," said ASU assistant professor Kevin Hong.

He says thanks to the app, people are carpooling more and taking fewer trips. Others are even getting rid of their cars altogether and relying solely on Uber to get around.

"I honestly don't think many ride-sharing companies, when they founded those companies, they were thinking about, 'OK this is going to reduce the traffic congestion problem,' but this actually happened," Hong said.  

This independent study only used data from Uber. There's also Lyft, which could mean these numbers are even higher.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.?

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She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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