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Uber to Expand Electric Vehicle Ride-Sharing Option to 1,400 Cities

Sustainability News
by Tim Wenger Jan 15, 2021

This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.

Ride hailing often gets a bad rap from environmentalists. Some of it is deserved, including its impact on public transit ridership. Studies including one from the University of Kentucky have shown that Uber and Lyft pull large numbers of riders from public buses and trains in major cities. And after a driver completes a ride, they can find themselves driving aimlessly until another fare comes in.

But major players including Uber and Lyft have been making efforts to green their operations. Lyft announced last year that it would switch its entire fleet to electric vehicles within ten years and hopefully sooner. And just this week, Uber announced plans to expand its “Uber Green” service, which gives riders the chance to opt for a ride in an electric vehicle rather than a gas powered one, to an additional 1,400 cities this year.

On tap for the company’s greener ride shares are major cities like New York, Miami, and Houston, as well as mid-sized and smaller cities across the country. And, Canada is getting green rides too, in major hubs including Winnipeg and Calgary. The EV option will be included in Uber’s membership program, Uber Pass, so riders can even rack up rewards points while taking a green ride.

“It’s our responsibility as the largest mobility platform in the world to reduce emissions and help drive a green recovery in our cities,” said Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s senior vice president of mobility and business operations, in a blog post. “We’re excited to kick off 2021 with more actions to increase clean mobility options for riders, drivers and cities.”

The company also rolled out plans to help its drivers transition to electric vehicles. Uber has teamed up with Avis to offer its drivers EV rentals, a program which will kick off in Los Angeles, before expanding to other cities. In San Francisco, drivers can swap out a drained battery for a charged one, thanks to the company’s partnership with Ample, an SF-based producer of smart batteries for electric vehicles.

“Starting this month, drivers in San Francisco can rent a vehicle with Ample technology and quickly swap their electric vehicle batteries in mere minutes, then return to the road fully charged,” Macdonald said in the blog post.

And the company plans to help its drivers charge their cars for less through a partnership with EVgo, which will be available at more than 800 charging stations around the country this year.

To be sure, Uber still has a long way to go before its entire fleet is electric, and that’s on top of addressing the issue with keeping people off public transit. However, the company plans to expand its Journey Planning service to additional cities worldwide this year, helping its riders pair Uber rides with public transit for an efficient, smooth move about their city.

This is where you come in. As the rider, you can step up to complement Uber’s efforts by choosing the EV option, when available, and using Uber in conjunction with public transit, cycling, and other modes of “zero added emissions” transit.

More climate wins

President Donald Trump’s attempt to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration appears to be a complete bust, according to Alaska Public Media. What the administration had hoped would lure lucrative bids from major oil and gas companies drew only three, one of which was the state of Alaska itself and none of whom were major industry players anticipating to explore and drill in the long term. The sale was expected to attract $1.8 billion in revenue, and drew a mere $14 million. It looks as though drilling in the ANWR is a pipe dream, no pipeline required.

A new hotel concept from Soul Community Planet (SCP) donates money to community and environmental causes with every stay. By retrofitting dilapidated motel properties, SCP is eliminating blight while offering a more sustainable lodging option to its guests. Additionally, the company uses sustainable toiletries, and follows a strict environmental code designed to minimize the environmental impact of the hotel itself and its guests. One of our staff at Matador experienced the green surrounds firsthand.

A new group of citizen scientist activists called Climate Moms is out to combat climate change, beginning with education and awareness. The Wasington Post reported this week that the group will run ads both on television and online in what it says is the largest climate-related ad buy in the past decade.

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