Environment

Driving Your Own Car Creates Less Climate Pollution Than Ride-hailing

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have often been deemed as a blessing for passengers who wish to avoid the hassles of driving private vehicles or lack one of their own. However, when coming to the environment, ride-hailing does more harm than good according to a recently published scientific study

The study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists states that ride-hailing trips generate 69% more climate pollution on average than the trips displaced by them. 

How Are Ride-hailing Trips A Foe To The Climate?

While ride-hailing services are discouraging people from buying a car and decreasing the number of private vehicles on-road, the positive effects are outweighed by two factors.

First of all, such services provide a convenient and comfortable alternative to those who would otherwise use more climate-friendly lower carbon-footprint options of commute like taking public transport or biking or walking, or sometimes even just skip the trip. 

Second, in a phenomenon called “deadheading,” the car involved in such services is often driven extra miles between places to pick up new passengers which leads to higher carbon emissions. Studies have revealed that non-pooled ride-hailing trips generate almost 50% more carbon emissions on average than the same trip in a privately-owned car. A recent report mentions that deadheading is responsible for about 40% of the miles logged by Lyft and Uber cars in California.

Mitigation Is Possible

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, smart choices can help alleviate the problems mentioned above. The transition to electric cars and pooling trips are the two best ways to mitigate the climate pollution resulting from car-hailing. As per the researchers, the rate of carbon emission for pooled car trips and an average private car trip are nearly the same. The use of electric vehicles for car-hailing reduces emissions by 50% and a combination of pooling and use of electric vehicles cut down emissions by nearly 70%. 

It is now up to the public to do their part by pushing the car-hailing companies and policymakers to implement the changes suggested by experts. 

RankType of rideEmissions per trip-mile in g CO2e
1Non-pooled ride hailing684
2Private vehicle464
3Pooled ride-hailing456
4Bus314
5Rail103

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