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Ride-Hailing Creates More Emissions Than Private Vehicles

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City Traffic ride-hailing emissions
City traffic
Photo: Joey Lu

Many city dwellers are opting for ride-hailing services instead of public transportation to get to their destinations. While it may be a more convenient mode of transportation for some, a new study found that ride-hailing is also creating more emissions.

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The study’s findings

The Union of Concerned Scientists conducted the study, which looked at the impact ride-hailing had on emissions in U.S. cities. Seven cities were examined in the study, including Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Researchers discovered that the average solo ride-hailing trip causes 50 percent more carbon dioxide emissions than a trip in a private vehicle. A ride-hailing trip with multiple passengers emits roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as a ride in a private car. However, the study found that just 15 percent of ride-hailing trips in the U.S. are shared.

Ride-hailing also creates almost 70 percent more carbon dioxide emissions than rides in trains or buses, as well as trips spent walking or biking. While many rideshare vehicles have better fuel efficiency than vehicles overall, they still cause a significant amount of emissions due to spending about 42 percent of ride-hail driving activity driving toward or waiting for pickups.

Furthermore, multiple studies conducted during the last two years have discovered that the popularity of ride-hailing has led to fewer people utilizing public transportation. Ride-hailing has not, however, caused more people to get rid of their private cars. These factors all contribute to an increase in inner-city congestion.

In the report, the Union of Concerned Scientists urged Lyft, Uber, and other companies to offer more pooled rides and electrified vehicles, as well as to better connections to public transit hubs around the country.

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Both Lyft and Uber encourage electric vehicles in certain cities and incorporate public transportation information on their respective apps. The companies have previously expressed that their role in traffic is often overstated in studies.