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Does ride-hailing exclude more people than it helps?
Oliver Luft

Oliver Luft

Ride-hailing is booming – just not for everyone. If you’re urban and affluent, you’re more likely to be a user, but who isn’t so well served?

If you thought a typical ride-hailing customer was youngish, urban and affluent, you’d be right – yet despite an increasing number of people like this using ride-hailing apps, there are still barriers to more widespread and frequent use.

The number of Americans using ride-hailing apps has risen rapidly, but the biggest growth in terms of age, education and affluence comes from college graduates, people aged 30-49, and those with a household income of more than $75,000 per annum.

If you’re bit less affluent, not so educated and more rural, there’s less of a clamor around reaching for your cell and installing a ride-hailing app.


According to a study from the Pew Research Center, there's been a dramatic increase in the share of Americans who have used a ride-hailing service. Today, around 36% of adults in the US claim to have used such a service, compared to just 15% in 2015.

However, those whose annual household income is $75,000 or over are more than twice as likely to have used these services as those earning less than $30,000.

Urban vs rural

The study also found ridership varied substantially between communities – with 45% of urban residents and 40% of suburban residents having used a ride-hailing app, but only 19% in rural areas.

When income is considered, those figures are starker – with 71% of urban households earning more than $75,000 having used a ride-hailing app, but just 32% of rural households earning the same.


Disabilities and more

Ride-hailing is yet to work for lots of people in mainstream society, so it’s perhaps not surprising that services provided to wheelchair users often lag behind. A recent study by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest concluded that ride-hailing services are “useless” for wheelchair users.

Wheelchair users aren’t the only restricted group. Despite the move by a number of ride-hailing organizations into the credit and debit card business, these services also remain beyond the reach of many people who lack a bank account or credit card.


Of course, ride-hailing is still in its infancy. Not all of those untapped or under-served consumers represent a practical business opportunity. Ride-hailing is still in its initial phase of development. Services are no doubt considering how to serve more people, but the challenge is not just to encourage wider use, but also more frequent use.

While urban populations do ride more frequently, just one-in-ten of all users use these apps at least weekly, with just two percent using them daily.

Serving more people

In the end, the biggest block might be a combination of making it easier to use ride-hailing for a range of different tasks, while also encouraging core customers to see ride-hailing as a convenient and essential part of their daily routine.

Location intelligence can play a critical role in helping on-demand organizations expand their business to include more demographics or geographies. Accurate location, asset and routing data can aid fleet optimization and improve service response times. Accurate pick-up and trip destination ETAs can ensure time isn’t wasted connecting users with drivers, while location services can calculate the fastest possible route between multiple waypoints to maximize journey efficiency.

To find out more, download our ebook - Maximizing urban mobility: How to increase efficiency to serve more people.