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Uber drivers are more productive than taxi drivers, according to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US. This conclusion has been made based on figures from five US cities – Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle

In Disruptive Change in the Taxi Business: The Case of Uber, two US academics argue that UberX drivers “spend a significantly higher fraction of their time, and drive a substantially higher share of miles, with a passenger in their car than do taxi drivers”.  

Factors that “likely contribute to the higher capacity utilisation rate of UberX drivers” include Uber’s more efficient driver-passenger matching technology, according to Judd Cramer and Alan B Krueger, both academics at Princeton University.

They also cited the larger scale of Uber compared to taxi companies, inefficient taxi regulations and the fact that “Uber’s flexible labour supply model and surge pricing more closely match supply with demand throughout the day”.

The research indicates that UberX drivers on average have a passenger in the car about half the time that they have their app turned on, while taxi drivers have a passenger in the car an average of anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of the time they are working.

The study also points to higher productivity for UberX drivers than taxi drivers when the share of miles driven with a passenger in the car is used to measure capacity utilisation. Based on figures from the five US cities, the capacity utilisation rate is 30 per cent higher for UberX drivers than taxi drivers when measured by time, and 50 per cent higher when measured by miles.

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