Trips in ride-share cars are more damaging to the climate, and impose a greater cost to society in terms of traffic congestion and public safety, than journeys in private vehicles, according to a new study from engineering and public policy researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.
The researchers gathered public data on rides with Uber, Lyft, and other services in Austin, Chicago, New York, and cities in California. Using a computer model to simulate 100,000 trips, they painted a representative picture of journey lengths, the time spent in between rides (known as “deadheading”), and the types of vehicles used by drivers…
The main reason for the difference is deadheading, said Jeremy Michalek, one of the study’s authors. On average, deadheading accounted for 43% of total drive time—time spent producing carbon emissions, blocking traffic, and being at risk of accidents that a person driving their own vehicle would avoid.
Ride-shares did beat personal vehicles on one key metric: Air pollution.