Societal impacts of smart, digital platform mobility services—an empirical study and policy implications of passenger safety and security in ride-hailing

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Abstract

Smart, digital platform mobility solutions such as internet-based ride-hailing are becoming common in Global South cities. Empirical research on their wider societal impacts is however, limited. This study explores a critical dimension of societal impact, which is passenger safety and security. The paper uses a large sample qualitative survey data (n = 548) on the perceptions and experiences of users and non-users of internet-based ride-hailing services in Ghana. Through an inductive analysis, seven factors are identified that reflect heterogeneous safety and security perceptions and experiences in ride-hailing. Some individuals perceived a high sense of security and safety from ride-hailing platforms’ inbuilt features, including ‘driver and vehicle identification’ and real-time journey ‘trackability and traceability’. Additionally, they derived a sense of safety and security from the ‘privacy and lone travel’ in ride-hailing, as well as ride-hailing use in ‘emergency’ situations when other emergency services are not readily available. Others, however, expressed ‘distrust’ in the platforms’ inbuilt security features and believed that they enable exposure to ‘malicious and criminal activities’ that compromise their safety when using ride-hailing services. Moreover, safety risks were experienced through ‘driver behaviours’, such as reckless driving, distractions by smartphone usage while driving as well as fare pricing practices that are considered intransparent by passengers, leading to clashes between them and ride-hailing drivers. The implications of the findings are discussed in terms of their fundamental conceptual and empirical value to research on smart mobility, transport safety and travel-related well-being, as well as practical relevance for transport policy and governance in the age of smart mobility transitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-314
Number of pages13
JournalCase Studies on Transport Policy
Volume9
Issue number1
Early online date23 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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