The true cost of Uber, between “dirty” cars and poor safety for passengers

The drivers of the online platform make the cities in which they operate more congested and the private taxi service involves pollution and traffic. And the presence of their cars, mostly diesel vehicles, is also an environmental problem. The Transport & Environment report and the #TrueCostOfUber campaign aim to make citizens and administrators understand how and why Uber should “clean up”

Uber drivers make the cities in which they operate even more congested and the private taxi service involves pollution and traffic. Not only, therefore, the company cannot represent an example of a sharing economy, because its drivers are actually “draft” workers without protections, which unlike the BlaBlaCar drivers do not have an interest in going to the place indicated by the customer: the presence of their cars, mostly diesel vehicles, is also an environmental problem. This was confirmed by Transport & Environment (T&E), a non-profit organization based in Brussels that deals with research and campaigns on issues related to climate and transport, which analyzed the data compiled by Euromonitor, and related in particular to the cities of London and Paris.

The report “Europe’s giant ‘taxi’ company is Uber part of the problem or the solution?” It starts with some considerations. The first: the traffic volumes generated by Uber, the value of the rides was equal to 50 billion dollars in 2018, are growing rapidly, and in the next few years the company aims to expand in particular in Spain, Italy, and Germany; the second: taxis represent on average between 10 and 20 percent of urban traffic, but certainly a smaller number of vehicles in circulation; the third: in the last five years in Paris and London private rental vehicles have increased by 10 thousand and 25 thousand units respectively, while that of official taxis has remained stable.
According to T&E estimates, vehicles operating through the Uber application in London, Paris, and Brussels cause emissions of approximately 525 thousand tons of CO 2 per year, more or less equivalent to those of 250 thousand private vehicles, and this goes against any ambitious program that foresees a reduction of the ecological footprint of the metropolises.

For this reason, a coalition of non-governmental organizations from six countries, the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Belgium, has launched the #TrueCostOfUber campaign (the real cost of Uber). The promoters are Sierra Club, Nabu, Respire, MilieuDefensie, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, Les Chercheurs d’Or and Transport & Environment. Their goal is to make citizens and administrators understand that Uber must “clean up” to continue working in European and American cities.

The campaign would like to force Uber to have a 100% clean fleet by 2025 in major cities. Today there is a service called Uber Green, but few cars are available. In France, for example, according to 2017 government data, 90 percent of vehicles registered as private rental cars (a category which also includes Uber drivers) were diesel.

According to Olivier Blond, president of Respire (French NGO), “diesel kills, and Uber should not be part of the air pollution problem. The company should stop using these ‘dirty’ cars, which in particular in densely populated areas such as Paris, are very inefficient. ”

Uber – which is based in the US state with subsidized taxation of Delaware and closed 2018 with a turnover of 11.3 billion dollars – according to T&E should “accompany its drivers towards a transition to zero-emission cars, as it is already doing in London after the English capital has established an ultra-low emission zone “.
London is an exemplary case, because the city is working effectively to reduce the number of aid in circulation, from 6.7 million per day in 2000 to 5.8 million in 2019, and it has done so by making it more effective the offer of public transport and introducing a tax related to pollution. Despite this, since 2012, when Uber entered the market, traffic in central London has grown by 5 percent. According to Transport for London (TfL), the public entity that deals with regulating mobility in the metropolitan area of ​​the city, “this figure can be identified as the result of the increase in the number of ‘private rental cars’, and not of the cars owned by Londoners “.

According to Greg Archer, director of Transport & Environment in the UK, “Uber in London is committed to having a fully sustainable fleet by 2025, forced by the air quality rules introduced from London. This means that this is feasible, even from a financial point of view. If it weren’t, the company would be down the market. But the question we ask Uber is: and why not do the same in Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds? Are they second-class cities? ”.

“If Uber wants to become part of the solution and not the problem, it will have to stop using cars powered by petrol or diesel, to immediately switch to cars powered exclusively by electricity. This is the only right thing to do ”confirms Yoann Le Petit, a mobility expert for T&E.

Meanwhile, Uber’s service will be suspended in London from Monday 2 December. Not for a pollution issue, but because according to Transport for London the service would be lacking in passenger risk control and protection tools: “It is unacceptable – explained in a press release Helen Chapman, licensing director for TfL- that Uber welcomes passengers on cars of subjects potentially without a driving license and uninsured “.

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