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Uber, Lyft Could Replace Car Ownership — Even in Phoenix

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At 18, Arizona State University student Daniella Rudoy has never had a driver’s license, much less owned a car.

Living in student housing on the school’s Phoenix campus, she says she doesn’t need one.

“If I do need to get around, it’s easier for me to use Uber … For me, it works out cheaper,” says Rudoy, a California native. “So I really don’t think a car is necessary.”

Rudoy is among a growing group of millennials forgoing car ownership and instead using ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, which connect car owners with people willing to pay for a ride.

While the trend has long been widely popular in places like New York and California, it’s becoming a viable alternative even in the sprawling area of metro Phoenix.

“Folks are finding Uber is so reliable that they are able to give up their cars,” says Taylor Patterson, a spokesperson for Uber. “They don’t have to pay for a car payment, insurance, or gas, and instead are finding it much cheaper to use Uber to get around.” Of course, ride-sharing isn’t a cheaper alternative for everyone.

Studies have shown that in most cases if a person commutes more than 13,500 miles a year, car ownership still is cheaper.

The average cost of owning and driving an average mid-sized sedan in the United States is $8,876 as of 2014, according to AAA. ASU students also have to account for parking, which costs $800 a year at the Phoenix campus, which is a further deterrent for some students.

“There was a point of time where I was considering bringing my car out here, but I elected against it because of parking,” says Jeremy Farina, a 18-year-old freshman. "Just having [Uber and Lyft] as an option is great. It’s so easy to use — you just pull up an app.”

Millennial like Farina tend to be the “most enthusiastic group of users,” Patterson says.

“Certainly it is popular with millennials,” she says. “They are very comfortable with tech in general…Uber becomes part of the fabric of their daily life.”

Studies show young people are less interested in car ownership than previous generations, according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group. And half of millenials age 18 to 34 are using ride-sharing apps, states a report by Zogby Analytical.

However, costs can quickly spiral using ride sharing, especially for people who commute often.

When best friends Cassidy Dupay and Carissa Wigginton moved to Phoenix from North Dakota last year, they believed they could commute using Uber and public transportation. They were shocked when they ended up spending more than $3,000 in just one semester.

“With Uber, last semester it got a little out of hand,” Dupay says with a laugh. “I had saved up all summer for money and I almost blew through it all, just on Uber.”

Next semester, Dupay and Wigginton say they are going "old school" and getting a car.

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