OAKLAND, Calif. (May 24, 2021)—The California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted last Thursday to approve the nation’s first standard to transition ride-hailing fleets to zero-emission vehicles. The Clean Miles Standard will ensure that 90 percent of ride-hailing miles traveled across California take place in zero-emission vehicles by 2030 and provide a model for other states to address pollution attributable to Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies.
“This regulation is a big win for public health, the climate and for ride-hailing drivers, too, if Uber and Lyft step up and support electrifying their fleets,” said Elizabeth Irvin, a senior transportation analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “Ride-hailing companies have not delivered on their promise of a future with fewer cars and lower pollution. Instead, ride-hailing services in urban areas have increased pollution and congestion and reduced climate-friendly, public-transit ridership. California air regulators took a critical step today to ensure that these companies take responsibility for their pollution by transitioning to electric vehicles.”
Numerous studies show that the rise of Uber and Lyft has siphoned riders away from public transit and other climate-friendly forms of transportation and increased air pollution in U.S. cities. Surveys of California riders, for example, indicate that 24 percent of non-pooled rides and 36 percent of pooled trips would have been taken via mass transit, walking or biking, or not taken at all. And, according to a 2020 UCS analysis, ride-hailing trips are 69 percent more polluting than the trips they replace, and a non-pooled Uber or Lyft ride is 47 percent more polluting than a private car trip.
According to a UCS analysis of CARB data, transitioning ride-hailing fleets to electric vehicles, as required by the standard, is affordable. It would cost companies less than 4 cents per mile, or around 43 cents per trip. Drivers, meanwhile, would benefit from lower fuel and maintenance costs and save about $1,000 annually.
Uber and Lyft are opposed to covering the cost of new electric vehicles for their drivers and have called on the state to finance the transition. Irvin said California regulators have to hold the companies accountable for footing the bill.
“Uber and Lyft jointly spent more than $100 million on a ballot measure last year to defeat California labor protections for drivers, so their drivers are still considered contractors, not employees,” she said. “That’s why it is so essential that regulators at CARB and the California Public Utilities Commission require the companies, not their drivers, to shoulder the upfront cost of transitioning to electric vehicles and ensure their drivers enjoy the benefits of driving cars that are less expensive to operate and maintain.
“California is already investing millions of dollars every year to help car owners go electric,” she added. “Uber and Lyft need to do their part to address ride-hailing fleet pollution by supporting their drivers’ transition to zero-emission vehicles.”