Ride-hailing pollutes more than the cars it replaces, study claims

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Ride-hailing services such as Uber are increasing car travel, climate emissions and traffic congestion, according to a new US study.

Ride-hailing trips now result in an estimated 69% more climate pollution, on average, than the trips they displace, it finds.

Previous studies have examined the significant contribution of Uber-type services to congestion. However, this report – by non-profit advocacy group, the Union of Concerned Scientists – is the first attempt to assess their impact on carbon emissions compared to the private car rides and public transport journeys they replace.

Scientists examined the impact of ride-hailing services in seven US cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.

A solo ride-hailing trip, on average, emits nearly 50% more CO2 than one in a private vehicle, the researchers found.

A pooled ride-hailing trip – one that multiple passengers share – emits nearly the same amount as a private car ride. Only 15% of all US ride-hailing trips are shared, according to the report.

The report also states that, despite ride-hailing vehicles being newer and having greater fuel efficiency than the overall vehicle fleet, ride-hailing drivers spend 42% of their service time either waiting for or driving towards a ‘pick up’, which means that they increase emissions.

What’s more, ride-hailing also emits nearly 70% more than trips that passengers would have otherwise taken by public transport, cycling or walking, the study found.

The report calls on Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services to electrify their fleets to have zero emissions, increase the share of pooled rides and improve connections to public transit hubs.

The report, titled Ride-Hailing’s Climate Risks – Steering a Growing Industry Toward a Clean Transportation Future, can be downloaded and read in full here.

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