Over the next three years, Uber will spend $10 million on programs aimed at reducing traffic congestion in cities. The popularity of Uber’s ride-hailing service is responsible exacerbating this problem. Traffic congestion is responsible for air quality problems that often result in health problems such as respiratory problems, as well as reduction in intelligence, and dementia. There are unknown effects of exhaust particles crossing mothers’ placenta and contaminating the developing fetus.
Uber is pushing for congestion price policies that charges drivers a fee for entering city centers. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company has been advocating for this policy in New York City, which has recently voted to cap the number of vehicles for Uber and other ride-hailing services. The number of for-hire vehicles in New York City has surged rapidly from 63,000 in 2015 to more than 100,000 today.
Uber will also contribute to SharedStreets, a clearinghouse for data relevant to urban planning from public and private sources. Uber will contribute data on vehicle speeds to help cities determine where speeding occurs most frequently.
The company also bought bike-sharing startup Jump earlier this year and is currently operating a pilot program in San Francisco that is producing encouraging results. Uber will also invest in charging stations for e-bikes in Sacramento and will donate to PeopleForBikes, a lobbying group for bicycles.
Uber has been criticized because they’re not reducing the number of ride-hailing vehicles operating in city centers. A recent study found that ride-sharing services like Uber draw riders away from public transit, ultimately increasing traffic. Uber has not offered any concrete ideas how it could complement public transit.
Also, it has been noted that $10 million is barely a drop in the bucket for a company valued at $62 billion. Hopefully this is a start to many new programs that Uber will implement in upcoming months and years.