While people debate the pros and cons of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, let me suggest one substantial negative — what I call the “swarm.”
Unlike traditional taxis, which rely on dispatchers, cab stands and on-street hailing, these services rely on direct passenger-to-driver interactions. This means that drivers contend with each other to be closest to a potential fare. They do this in several ways.
The first is the stationary swarm, where drivers position their vehicles close to potential fares. They take up parking spaces, even those designated for residents only; they sit next to fire hydrants; they block driveways and alleys. They usually keep their motors running, fouling the air. This is illegal but pretty much unenforceable.
The second is the mobile swarm, circulating around hotels and high-incidence apartment buildings. This swarm is usually most active during rush hours, substantially adding to traffic in inner-city residential neighborhoods such as mine.
Undoubtedly, ride-hailing services are a tremendous convenience for some. But for others, they create very real problems. And these problems can only be expected to grow as more hotels and more Airbnb-type apartments are approved and built in the neighborhoods bordering downtown, and as more services enter the marketplace.
Vic Miller, Washington Heights