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San Franciscans ditching Uber, says consumer report

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But most of the company’s losses just fuel rival ride-hailing services

Uber Releases Results Of Internal Sexual Harassment Investigation Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

San Franciscans who loathe the proliferation of ride-hailing companies may be relieved to hear that Uber, the San Francisco-based company that brought app-enable car sharing to the masses, seems to be in decline. At least locally.

But that’s unlikely to fuel any corresponding decline in traffic complaints about such companies, as most of those ditching Uber are now hitching rides with its competitors instead.

Certify, a Maine-based software company that tallies business expenses, reports that Uber saw its number of rides shrink for the first time last quarter.

According to Certify’s third quarter report released Tuesday:

“Data shows Uber’s growth hitting its first roadblock, as business travel use was down one percent in the quarter, from 55 percent of rides in Q2 to 54 percent in Q3 2017, its only decline on record since Certify began measuring ride-hailing data. [...] Taxi and car rental[s] each lost one percent, dropping to seven percent and 28 percent respectively.”

Certify has tracked ride-hailing use since the beginning of 2014, giving Uber a consistent pattern of growth—until now.

A one percent decline is quite substantial when you consider the size of Uber’s user base—earlier this year the company claimed that it connected its five billionth ride—but it’s still only one percent, and Certify only measures rides as business expenses. For now, there’s no way to know if casual use is also down.

But it’s a lot harder to write off the local figures, as Certify also suggests Uber’s biggest losses happened right here in San Francisco, where use dropped at eight times the national average this quarter:

“A review of major metro areas in the U.S. patterns after national trends, with Uber losing between one percent and eight percent and corresponding gains for Lyft. San Francisco, hometown to both ride-hailing rivals, saw the largest decline for Uber (minus eight percent) and the greatest gain for Lyft (plus nine percent).”

Uber Releases Results Of Internal Sexual Harassment Investigation Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Second Measure, a research firm that analyzes credit card purchases and provides a broader sample size than Certify’s business-specific analysis, says that Uber controlled 91 percent of the ride-hailing market in 2014.

These days it’s down to nearly 74 percent.

Echoing Certify’s study, Second Measure says that Uber’s loss is Lyft’s gain; overall, there’s not much decline in the number of ride-hailing cars saturating city streets.

Uber did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last week an SFMTA survey found that ride-hailing companies account for only four percent of daily trips taken in San Francisco, but also that such services are essentially the only transit option that’s seen significant user growth in recent years.

Earlier in the month, Northwestern University estimated ride-hailing use to be much higher, accounting for as much as 15 percent of San Francisco commuting.