Car trips arranged by Uber, Lyft & Co. are actually much more environmentally friendly than those with your own car, but in the overall balance the comparison is reversed. This is what researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (USA) have determined.
Cars used for Uber, Lyft & Co. consume significantly more fuel just because they have to run empty between the paid services – even though they are actually newer and more economical on average. In addition, the extra time they spend on the road makes an above-average contribution to traffic jams, noise and the risk of accidents. Such additional costs would be borne by society, not the individuals behind the wheel or even corporations like Uber.
More greenhouse gases thanks to Uber, Lyft & Co.
Like the group around Greg Drozd now explained in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, they have collected and evaluated data on so-called TNC (Transportation Network Companies) and personal vehicles for the analysis. Mainly because cars are newer on average for Uber, Lyft and similar services, they would only emit about half as many emissions. This clear benefit for public health – and environmental protection – would be dissipated as soon as all use was included. After all, the vehicles have to be driven without customers between jobs. That is why the fuel consumption of Uber & Co. vehicles is 20 percent higher – and thus also the emission of greenhouse gases.
In addition to this harmfulness to the climate, there is also the fact that the cars, especially when they run empty, lead to more traffic jams, more noise pollution and an increased risk of accidents. So anyone who decides to use Uber or Lyft instead of driving their own car increases costs for the community by 30 to 35 percent. As early as 2018, the responsible authority in the US metropolis of San Francisco determined that driver service providers were responsible for half of the additional traffic jams between 2010 and 2016. The city pioneered the introduction of the driver service apps. Both Uber and Lyft were founded there.
In the new study, the researchers According to the university, it is still being investigatedthat the external costs would even triple if an Uber trip was not a substitute for driving your own car but instead using local public transport. On the other hand, the external costs for such transport services could be reduced if journeys in the same direction are not divided between several cars. If Uber, Lyft & Co. were to arrange shared taxis, the trips would also outperform those with personal cars in the overall balance. This proposal is reminiscent of the German ridepooling service Moia, which is not only intended for several passengers at a time, but also relies on emission-free electric vehicles.