Monday, October 18, 2021

The bells start to toll for ride share

Today's New York Times has an editorial on the challenges that ride sharing are confronting and all the supposed benefits that were suppose to accrue. Well as more data comes in, the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The net net is transportation, ehmmm cough cough, I mean mobility, is incredibly hard to provide. One of the presumed benefits was to reduce pollution, and by extension greenhouse gases, but sadly that is not the case. 

Now a new study is punching a hole in another of Uber and Lyft’s promised benefits: curtailing pollution. The companies have long insisted their services are a boon to the environment in part because they reduce the need for short trips, can pool riders heading in roughly the same direction and cut unnecessary miles by, for instance, eliminating the need to look for street parking.

It turns out that Uber rides do spare the air from the high amount of pollutants emitted from starting up a cold vehicle, when it is operating less efficiently, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found. But that gain is wiped out by the need for drivers to circle around waiting for or fetching their next passenger, known as deadheading. Deadheading, Lyft and Uber estimated in 2019, is equal to about 40 percent of rideshare miles driven in six American cities. The researchers at Carnegie Mellon estimated that driving without a passenger leads to a roughly 20 percent overall increase in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions compared to trips made by personal vehicles.

On demand is incredibly difficult, and the more that moves to on demand, the costs of providing that convenience occurs somewhere, either explicitly or implicitly. And those costs may not be strictly in the form of emissions, but time. One thing is that Uber took off because it made people feel like "ballers" with on demand services reserved for the rich. However, in places where there is high density, everyone acting like that, you end up with deadlock and an increase in emissions and loss of time. This is illustrated in this Tweet and this response from the wealthy (or at least aspiring wealthy) who know that sometimes shared transit is faster as illustrated by this response:

Efficiency comes from shared capacity.  


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