Skip to main content

By the numbers: Pew Research profiles ride-hailing customers

uber settles driver background check case man driving in car the city ride share lyft getaround zipcar
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are one of the most visible and talked-about components of the digital economy. Pew Research Center has just released an extensive study, Shared, Collaborative and On Demand: The New Digital Economy. The first focus of the study is ride-hailing, and the main finding, perhaps not surprisingly, is that younger people are the most likely to use the services.

The study is based on a survey of 4,787 American adults taken from November 24 to December 21, 2015. Its findings show that 15 percent of American adults have used a ride-hailing service, while 51 percent have heard of ride-hailing services but haven’t used one. The median age of ride-hailing users is 33, with usage very much skewed toward younger riders.

The youngest group in the survey, 18- to 29-year-olds, lead ride-hailing usage at 28 percent. In the 30- to 49-year-old group, 19 percent have been ride-hailing customers. By contrast, only 4 percent of Americans 65 or older have used the services.

Frequency of use is another factor in ride-hailing weighted toward younger adults. When asked about using ride-hailing on a daily or weekly basis, only 1 percent of people 50 and older responded affirmatively, compared to 3 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds, and 7 percent of all 18- to 29-year-olds. The researchers also noted that, among that younger cohort, frequent use rose to 10 percent for those who live in urban areas.

The survey found that gender and race did not factor in ride-hailing use. However, education and income level were major factors in ride-hailing use. Among college graduates, 29 percent have used ride-hailing services, while usage dropped to only 6 percent of those who have not gone to college.

In American households with a combined income of $75,000 or more, 26 percent have used ride-hailing but ride-hailing is pursued by only 10 percent of those who live in households with an annual income of $30,000 or less.

Location matters across users of all ages, education levels, and income levels. Ride-hailing is more common in and around urban areas, and knowledge and use of the services is correspondingly higher in the city than in remote areas. Overall 21 percent of Americans who live in urban areas are customers compared to only 3 percent in rural areas.

When you look at these groups overall, it’s easy to make general observations. Statistics, of course, are always tricky and it’s usually not a great idea to take them at face value. However, with that disclaimer, it appears safe to say that Uber and Lyft passengers are more much more likely to be younger, higher educated, more affluent urbanites than older, less educated, less affluent country folk. And now we have the numbers to back it up.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
Uber wants riders to consider more carefully how they rate drivers
uber ride sharing service banned in berlin

In light of the recent revelation of Uber's hack cover-up, its riders and drivers might want to give the company a big fat zero rating right now.

But when it comes to riders rating drivers, Uber announced on Tuesday it's making some changes to its five-star system in a bid to ensure they give fairer assessments of their driver at the end of a journey. That's hugely important when you consider that a driver can lose their chance to work for the ridesharing giant if their rating slips too low.

Read more
Uber now lets you make multiple stops, whether or not you’re dressed as a horse
uber multiple stops feature

Whether it's for a good friend, a romantic partner, or, as Uber's video ad suggests, the other half of a two-person horse costume, the good news is that the ridesharing service now lets you make multiple stops hassle-free during a single trip.

Until now, Uber only let you stipulate a start and end point for a ride, meaning that if you wanted to make a few pick-ups along the way to somewhere, or a few drop-offs on the way back, you had to quickly update the new destination midtrip or input a new ride request. That's easier said than done if you're three sheets to the wind at the end of a boozy night out.

Read more
Lyft rides along with Amtrak for a more seamless travel experience
lyft amtrak partnership

They both get people to where they want to go, and now they're teaming up to create a seamless service for those who need both services to complete a journey. Ridesharing outfit Lyft, never shy about striking up partnerships to enhance its service, and the nation's major rail provider, Amtrak, have announced a new way to make it even easier for travelers to reach their destination.

Starting this week, Amtrak customers can use its app to access Lyft's service to request a ride to or from a train station. Lyft says it hopes the move will help "close the gap between public transit and your doorstep" while doing away with the need for "parking, cash, or rides from unreliable relatives."

Read more