Travel Distances

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Travel Distances

According to the US National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) in 2017, Americans embarked on the most number of trips and covered the most vehicle distances to their homes. Also, significant numbers of various trip metrics involve a passenger in the vehicle or during trips. Lastly, calculations and assumptions with available data points show that Uber has an average number of 3 passengers per trip.

#1: Americans made the highest number of vehicle trips to their homes.

#2: Americans covered the highest total vehicle distance in traveling to their homes.

  • The NHTS provides the annualized number of vehicle trip lengths by vehicle miles of travels or the number of vehicle miles for various purposes. "The vehicle miles of travel (VMT) is a unit to measure vehicle travel made by a private vehicle, such as an automobile, van, pickup truck, or motorcycle. Each mile traveled is counted as one vehicle mile regardless of the number of persons in the vehicle."
  • Similarly, in terms of distance, Americans made the highest miles of trips to their homes, as they recorded 750,398 billion VMT, which accounted for 35.6% of the total number of vehicle mileages traveled.
  • Following the above, are 438.062 billion VMT to their workplaces (20.8%) and 304.334 billion VMT for errands and shopping purposes (14.5%).
  • Others include 234.535 billion VMT for social/recreational events (11.1%), 111.118 billion VMT or 5.3% for meals, 61.822 billion VMT or 2.9% for school/daycare/religious purposes, 36.236 billion VMT or 1.7% for some other purposes, and 33.480 billion VMT to seek medical or dental care.

#3: Each American covered the most mileage when they traveled to their homes.

  • The NHTS also provides the annualized number of miles traveled by each person to achieve various purposes.
  • Each American traveled a total of 1.163 trillion miles (39.3%) just to get their homes, followed by the 626.430 billion miles (15.8%) covered on trips to their workplaces.
  • While each American took trips of 577.343 billion miles for some other reasons or purposes, 522,570 billion miles (13.2%) were covered for social and recreational events, 467.771 billion miles (11.8%) were covered on trips for errands and shopping purposes, 206.692 billion (5.2%) represented trips to get their meals, 147.604 billion miles (3.7%) were covered on trips for school/daycare/religious purposes, and 56.296 billion miles (1.4%) accounted for medical and/or dental trips.

#4: A significant number of various trip metrics involve only a passenger in the vehicle or trip.

  • Of all vehicle trips embarked by Americans, an annualized 18.746 billion or 8.5% of them were made while transporting a passenger.
  • Similarly, in terms of vehicle trip distance, 6.5% or 135.897 billion vehicle miles of travels were embarked upon with a passenger. This is 6.5% of all vehicle distances covered by Americans annually.
  • Each American traveled 201.951 billion miles with a passenger. This accounted for 5.1% of the total miles traveled by an American annually.

#5: Americans mostly embarked on vehicle trips that are exclusively less than 6 miles.

#6: American males covered more distances than their female counterparts.

#7: The total distance covered is fragmented among different age groups or brackets.

  • Out of the 2.103 trillion vehicle miles of travel surveyed, the top five age brackets based on the most vehicle miles covered are ages 31-35 (10.1%), ages 36-40 (10.1%), ages 26-30 (9.8%), ages 51-55 (9.8%), and ages 41-45 (9.4%). Other age groups remain heavily fragmented equally.
  • Similarly, in terms of the mileage covered by Americans by gender, the distribution remains heavily fragmented. The top-five age brackets in this regard are ages 31-35 (9.0%), 6-15 (8.8%), ages 26-30 (8.4%), ages 41-45 (8.3%), and ages 46-50 (8.1%).


Uber Statistics

Uber Trips

  • The average number of Uber trips per day was 17 million globally in 2019. But in the US, Uber completes 40 million rides per month.
  • In 2018, the number of Uber trips was 5.22 billion. And in September of the same year, it had completed over 10 billion rides within the previous decade.
  • Uber vehicles traveled 26 billion miles in 2018.

Average Number of Passengers Per Trip

  • Uber has over 75 million riders and 3.9 million drivers globally. The riders are the passengers of Uber.
  • In 2018, 95 million people used Uber globally every month.
  • About 25% of Americans said that they use Uber at least once a month (which translates to about 12 times in a year). Since the US constitutes Uber's headquarters and strongest market — a market it holds the highest share, it can be assumed that 25% of Uber's 95 million monthly users/riders/passengers use Uber at least once a month, globally. This assumption was made due to the unavailability of global data.
  • In terms of annual bases, the above statement can be rephrased to show that it can be assumed that 25% of Uber's 1.14 billion annual users/riders/passengers (i.e., 95 million * 12) use Uber at least 12 times in a year.
  • Therefore, in addition to its 1.14 billion annual users, 25% or 285 million riders (i.e., 25% * 1.14 billion) used it about 12 times in a year. This brings the total number of users/riders to 1.425 billion in a year (i.e., 1.14 billion + 285 million). Then, throwing in the frequency of usage (12 times), we get that around the world, 17.1 billion users or riders (i.e., 17.1 billion * 12) use Uber annually.
  • Note that the frequency of usage was factored in to account for repeat riders. Moreover, the total number of Uber trips includes all trips from repeat riders. Hence, it was necessary to account for the frequency of usage, as the average number of passengers per trip will be calculated below.
  • Lastly, knowing that there are 17.1 billion riders annually and the total number of Uber trips was 5.22 billion, both globally, then the average number of passengers per trip is about 3 (i.e., 17.1 billion / 5.22 billion = 3.2)

Research Strategy

To provide the requested information, we've leveraged the database of the National Household Travel Survey. Note that the latest data is for the year 2017 and to access the "Purpose tabs" or the "Distance tab" for trips by distance, the database would be toggled or selected. Also, due to the unavailability of global or necessary data points, logical assumptions were made to successfully estimate Uber's average number of passengers per trip.
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