Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Ad Nauseam

Excellent Uber Ad Distills the Problem With Uber in Crowded Cities

Photo: Uber

In a brilliant new spot, Uber inadvertently lays out exactly why its for-hire vehicles won't solve transportation headaches in crowded cities.

Produced by the Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, "Boxes" shows people moving around Bangkok streets in clunky cardboard appendages meant to represent cars. By stripping away the gloss, anonymity, and cultural connotations of car exteriors and leaving only their bulk, the ad brilliantly highlights why moving around in single-occupancy vehicles is so absurd in an urban context. There's just not enough space for everyone to get around this way.

It's a great ad for transitways or bike lanes or any transportation mode more spatially efficient than cars. But Uber suggests that its service -- which mostly ferries around single passengers in automobiles -- is somehow the solution to the problem.

The more we learn about the effect of Uber and similar services, the clearer it becomes that these claims are misleading. Uber is exacerbating congestion in the most crowded parts of New York City, and recent research indicates that ride-hailing apps in other major American cities divert trips from transit and increase the number of cars on the road.

There's certainly a place for these services in the transportation ecosystem, but they're not a solution to moving large numbers of people in crowded cities. No app, no matter how user-friendly, can turn cars into a congestion fix.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Take Me to the River

Politico reports that the Biden administration is investing $2.5 billion in updating aging Mississippi River locks and dams like this one in Iowa. Transporting freight by barge produces less emissions than trucks or even rail.

July 12, 2024

Friday Video: Take a Spin on Boston’s Electric Cargo Bike Share

Can't afford a $7,000 Urban Arrow cargo e-bike ? In Boston, you can now rent one for just a few bucks.

July 12, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Electrify the Rails

Adrianna Rizzo of Californians for Electric Rail on California's looming lobbyist-fueled hydrogen train mistake: "We’re locking in low service for potentially decades."

July 11, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines Drive Less

Seems obvious that the more people drive, the more likely they are to die in a crash or kill someone else, but traditional thinking on traffic safety doesn't always follow that logic, according to Planetizen.

July 11, 2024
See all posts