Ride-hailing trips from companies like Uber and Lyft create about 69% more pollution on average than the trips they displace, according to a study published by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Researchers have assessed publicly-available ride-hailing data from seven major areas in the US – they estimate that a non-pooled ride-hailing trip generates around 47% greater emissions than a private car trip in a vehicle of average fuel efficiency.
This is due to factors like the amount of time a driver travels without a passenger to reach their next pickup point or ‘deadheading’, which is when a taxi needs to drive for a return journey without a passenger generating unnecessary emissions.
In contrast, it claims an electric, pooled ride-hailing trip can cut emissions by 68% compared with a private vehicle trip in an average car, or about 79% compared with a non-pooled ride-hailing trip.
Additionally, the UCS says that instead of decreasing or replacing the amount of car trips, ride-hailing companies are actually adding to the total volume, with many riders opting to use Uber or Lyft instead of taking more eco-friendly modes of transit like buses or trains.
Globally, Uber logged ten billion trips in 2018 while Lyft facilitated one billion.
A spokesperson for Lyft told Energy Live News: “This report, like many before it, makes misleading claims about rideshare.
“Lyft encourages the use of shared rides, was the first rideshare company to put public transit information into our app, and last year, made one of the largest single deployments of electric vehicles in the nation. We are eager to continue this work in partnership with cities, to advance shared, sustainable transportation.”
ELN has contacted Uber for a statement.