Rising awareness of Uber’s harmful impact

Awareness of the pollution caused by Uber and taxi services is growing, according to an opinion survey commissioned by T&E. The survey shows that citizens in the cities where Uber operates most have the greatest awareness of the environmental impact of ride-hailing and taxi services. T&E says this strengthens the case for making the licensing of Uber and similar services being made conditional on vehicles being electric.

New-style taxi services, which involve private individuals with special licenses using their own cars as taxis and being assigned customers via an online system, have grown dramatically in the last 10 years. Uber is the biggest and best-known, but there are others operating in North America (for example, Lyft) and increasingly in Europe (such as Bolt and Kapten). As these services grow, so does the evidence that they add to traffic levels and thereby to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

T&E commissioned the opinion polling company YouGov to survey over 12,500 people in seven EU countries about their views of Uber. It found that almost half (44%) of Londoners say Uber has a negative impact on pollution overall, while over a third (34%) of Parisians say Uber impacts negatively on pollution levels in the city. Uber had 3.6 million users in London in 2019 and 2.7 million in France in 2017.

The survey also found that more than half (52%) of taxi and Uber customers in the seven European countries surveyed are willing to pay an extra €0.15 - €0.20 per km for a zero-emission ride. This is especially true with young people who use Uber services more frequently: six out of 10 people aged 18-24 surveyed are willing to pay more if their ride is in a zero-emissions car.

T&E’s new mobility expert Yoann Le Petit said: ‘With French government data from 2017 showing that 90% of the registered private hire vehicles, including Uber’s, were diesels, the future of such ride-hailing services has to be zero-emission or not at all. Uber needs to help its drivers with the upfront cost of switching to electric cars – e-vehicles are cheaper to run than fossil fuel cars due to lower fuel, insurance and maintenance costs. And city governments need to help everyone by introducing low and zero-emission zones in city centres like in London and ramping up fast charging availability for taxis and ride-hailing services.’

T&E is part of a campaign #TrueCostOfUber that is encouraging politicians in large cities to rule that Uber’s fleet must be 100% electric by 2025 if it is to be allowed to continue operating. Currently the campaign has engaged with tens of thousands of local residents urging the authorities in Paris and Brussels to tackle this issue.