Air Pollution Could Be Getting Worse Due To Ride-Hailing Services

It goes without saying the air pollution is an ongoing issue that needs to be solved. That’s the main reason why car companies are going green, with the switch to electrified vehicles continuously burgeoning globally. It affects the industry, as you should have noticed by now, but for a positive cause.

While the world is on its journey to reduce its harmful vehicle emissions, there has been a trend from the past decade that could be making things worse – it’s called ride-hailing services from transportation network companies (TNCs).

A study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University tried to quantify the effects of shifting from private vehicle travel to ride-hailing services to air pollution, greenhouse gas, and traffic externality. To do this, the researchers simulated replacing private vehicle travel with TNCs in six US cities.

According to the study, the time your Uber or Lyft takes while waiting for the next rider increases vehicle travel, which in turn contributes to more air pollution.

“Deadheading,” as it’s called, creates a 20 percent increase in fuel consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions, while also yielding a 60 percent increase in external costs from congestion, crashes, and noise. These numbers increase three-fold as ride-hailing replaces public transportation.

Not everything’s bad news, though. The study also finds that switching to TNC travel decreases air pollution by 50 to 60 percent due to the newer, low-emitting vehicles and avoided “cold starts.” That said, the study concluded that there’s a 16 to 17 percent drop in externalities if the TNC vehicles are all-electric, reduced even further if the rides are pooled.

Overall, there are several other factors that could affect air pollution, even for EVs, but pooled rides and public transportation should never be out of the equation.

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