Monday, March 28, 2016

Lessons in reading a business story -- location, location, location

There is a lot of interesting stuff in this article by Chelsea Hawkins on who uses Uber and Lyft and what it costs, but for now there's one aspect I want to highlight.

Whenever you read a news story, pay close attention to where the events take place and where the subjects come from. Think about the areas mentioned (look them up on Wikipedia if they're unfamiliar) and ask yourself is there anything about these locations that might change the way I should interpret the story.

Case in point, check out the four consumers quoted in this story. [Emphasis added]

Here's How Much Money You Can Save From Deleting Uber and Lyft From Your Phone
March 25, 2016

To find out exactly how much people are spending on ride-sharing services — and how much they can save by deleting them entirely — we asked Uber and Lyft users in various parts of the country to calculate their monthly expenses on the apps. Overall, they found that their cab habit cost them hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars per year. 


Steve Han, a freelance writer based in Manhattan, said he only uses Uber a few times a week, mostly during rush hour when the trains are too busy.


Ana Cosma, 25, who lives in Washington, D.C., said that until recently, her cab expenses were out of control.


Lauren Bell, 26, who lives in Boston, said her main reason for using Lyft was convenience.


Veronica Glover, 27, who lives in the Bay Area of Northern California, said she started using Lyft for her daily commute to and from work earlier this year. 

We've already mentioned that for a wide variety of topics, particularly transportation, infrastructure and housing, any story or study that uses the Bay Area as an example should be viewed with suspicion. The same can be said of New York City, D.C., and to a lesser extent, Boston. All four land on the far end of the spectra for cost of living, population density, and access to taxis and mass transit. As a result, there are a large number of business plans, policy proposals and generalizations about customer behavior that make sense in these cities and almost nowhere else.

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