The sharing economy has been a defining feature of the 21st century so far. We look to each other for goods and services. We shuttle between our Airbnbs on borrowed scooters and take our peers from place to place in Ubers and Lyfts.
The demand for rideshare services is returning to normal as the world starts to recover from the pandemic. How does choosing these services affect public transit and the environment?
Rideshare services have made public transit options less accessible.
What are the benefits of the sharing economy?
Many are rejecting traditional modes of transportation and hospitality. The sharing economy is expected to offer cost savings, freedom of choice, and accessible job opportunities.
Customers are able to select from a huge housing market when they travel, instead of getting gauged by the one hotel on the island. Gig workers have the flexibility to choose their own hours and decide how much work to take on.
On a more macro level, the sharing economy promises to make positive changes to the human experience. We can improve the environment by leveraging goods that already exist instead of constantly making new products. We can more efficiently get from A to B, and give workers more options to make money.
These are enticing ideas, but are we getting what we think we’re paying for?
Rideshare services may contribute further to pollution
NEW: Ninety percent of miles logged by Uber and Lyft drivers in California must be in electric vehicles by 2030, under a new state mandate https://t.co/OwPVQ0Ytkh
Automotive News reported that the lofty ideals for decreasing pollution have yet to come to fruition for ride-sharing fleets.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that vehicles produce more emissions during “cold starts.” Rideshare vehicles typically drive continuously which could potentially reduce emissions by up to 60% if they replace private cars. However, there are many miles driven without any customers, which increases both fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
On top of higher emissions, more cars on the road mean more noise, more crashes, and more traffic. Ride-hailing services have also harmed public transportation systems.
As more people opt for rideshare services, public transit ridership has decreased. The loss in revenue has caused significant reductions for bus and train schedules. Automotive News reported that this downward spiral was happening even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the chasm has only grown wider since.
This will have the biggest negative impact on vulnerable communities that rely heavily on affordable public transportation. For now, rideshare services seem to be exacerbating the challenges of traditional transportation options instead of fixing them as promised.
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