Ride-hailing app maker will become one of the largest carbon-offset companies in the world.
The ride-hailing industry may have been built on the concepts of reducing the number of cars on the road and incorporating convenience into ground transportation, but the reality has yet to produce major environmental benefits. In fact, some experts argue that the rise of companies like Uber and Lyft have actually had a negative impact on both the amount of polluting trips per day; riders who might have otherwise walked, waited to combine multiple errands into one trip, or taken mass transit are now free to hail their own personal taxi at the touch of an app.
Lyft has taken a significant step towards correcting that by becoming one of the largest carbon-offset companies in the world. With a recent announcement that they would “buy back” over one million metric tons of carbon in this first year, Lyft has stated that all of its rides will now be carbon-neutral. The investment is approximately the same as “planting tens of millions of trees or taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road”.
Much to do
But is it enough? In many ways, there is still much to be done when it comes to transforming ride hailing into environmentally-friendly behavior. First, both Lyft and Uber have invested heavily in autonomous and electric vehicle technology, especially in terms of getting vehicles to respond to consumers’ needs in a way that does more good than harm. More importantly, though, are the gains to be made in viable ground transportation that links to existing mass transit hubs.
Lack of viable options
Putting 100 passengers on a commuter train is a great option for mid-distance travel, one that would prevent those people from burning fossil fuels and clogging the highway. But the issue has been a lack of convenient ground transportation once the train arrives (ditto re: air travel, in many ways). With not only more options in ride hailing but with pollution offset initiatives like Lyft’s, more consumers may opt for mass transit to handle the bulk of the miles rather than their personal vehicles.