Sep 27, 2018

Uber's push to be a carbon ally

Photo: Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Uber announced Wednesday that it's funneling $10 million over three years into a new "fund for sustainable mobility" to help address congestion, aid urban design, boost electrification and bicycle transit, and more.

Why it matters: The move arrives as some analysts and policymakers fear that the growth of ride-hailing is worsening urban traffic — and hence boosting emissions — and could be cannibalizing mass transit.

The details: Some goals for the Uber fund, the company says, include:

  • Advocating for congestion pricing in cities.
  • "We’re ready to do our part to help cities that want to put in place smart policies to tackle congestion—even if that means paying money out of our own pocket to pass a tax on our core business," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says in the announcement.
  • $250,000 will go to the nonprofit transportation data organization SharedStreets.
  • They're also contributing to alternatives to car use, including a donation to the group PeopleForBikes.
  • TechCruch has a good rundown of the initiatives here.

The big picture: Fast Company's piece on the new efforts takes stock of Uber's wider evolution. Eillie Anzilotti writes:

"Whereas in the early days, Uber thrived by positioning itself as a luxurious counterpoint to public transit, and a more convenient alternative to car travel in a city by doing away with the need to search for parking, it’s now trying to position itself as one node in a city’s transportation fabric, and potentially one that can use its reach and revenue to create broader change."

Separately, SharedStreets announced that it's collaborating with Uber, Lyft and Ford. Via a joint statement, the companies say:

"The data sets pledged by the companies will provide the public and private sectors with new tools to manage curb space in order to reduce congestion and emissions that cause climate change; improve the efficiency of city streets by making it easier for everyone to get around; and save lives by preventing traffic crashes."

Go deeper: How Uber is making traffic even worse.

Go deeper

Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 31 mins ago - Health

Wisconsin may be the start of the 2020 election wars

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wisconsin voters braving lines in face masks — after a last-minute Supreme Court ruling against extending the absentee deadline — could foreshadow a nationwide legal struggle over how to conduct elections during the coronavirus outbreak, election experts say.

Why it matters: "It's a harbinger of what's to come in the next skirmishes in the voting wars" from now through November, Richard Hasen, a professor and national election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told Axios.