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trueHUE® Water cooler stories
Behind the tap-of-your-phone convenience of hailing an Uber or Lyft lies an inconvenient truth: Such rides generate more carbon emissions than simply driving yourself.
The increased pollution comes primarily from “deadheading,” that is, drivers traveling to pick up a passenger or cruising the streets while waiting for a ride request. Deadheading accounts for about 40% of the miles logged by Uber and Lyft vehicles in California, according to recent analysis by state air quality regulators.
There are more than 600,000 ride-hail vehicles in California, and they emit about 50% more greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile traveled than an average car statewide, according to an analysis released by air quality officials in December.
Riders aren’t only taking Uber or Lyft instead of their own private vehicles, they’re taking them when they otherwise would have used lower-carbon options such as public transit, biking or walking.
When you factor in displacement of cleaner transportation, a typical ride-hail trip is about 70% more polluting than the average trip it replaces, the group’s analysis found.
Starting in 2023, the state would begin imposing increasingly stringent pollution standards, along with the requirement that the percentage of number of miles driven in electric vehicles grows over time. ]That means the biggest benefit would come from electrification and increasing pooled rides, said Anair of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He commended the ride-hail companies for launching some pilot projects aimed at getting more electric vehicles into their fleet, but says such initiatives have not been done on nearly a large enough scale.