Bill in state Legislature would require Uber, Lyft to have more electric vehicles

Feb 9, 2021, 4:10 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2021, 6:56 am

Iran, electric vehicles...

Kia Soul EV at a charging station. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Washington could see more Teslas, Nissan LEAFS, and other electric vehicles driving around with Uber and Lyft stickers in coming years.

A bill in the Legislature is attempting to curb fossil fuel emissions from Uber, Lyft, and other transportation services that use technology to arrange rides.

As per Substitute House Bill 1075, the Department of Ecology would set goals and targets by July 2023 to increase the percentage of annual passenger-miles — miles driven with passengers in the car — traveled in electric vehicles for each company.

According to the legislation, this does not include taxi companies. It would also not apply to food delivery services — only those services that provide rides.

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By January 2024, rideshare and other transportation service companies would have to come up with a greenhouse gas reduction plan to achieve those goals. Those plans would have to be implemented the following year, and updated every two years thereafter.

Goals would need to include: increasing the proportion of zero-emissions vehicles used by the company’s drivers; increasing the proportion of zero-emissions miles relative to all miles traveled; decreasing the proportion of greenhouse gases released per mile traveled; and increasing the proportion of passenger miles traveled relative to all miles traveled, to minimize the time drivers are on the road without passengers.

Besides encouraging drivers to invest in electric vehicles, companies could also increase the amount of each trip completed on foot or bicycle — for example, by letting the rider get out a little early and walk for the remainder of their trip.

“This bill would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from on-demand or at-base transportation services, and would encourage a transition to lower-emission vehicles,” said Kathy Taylor, Air Quality Program manager at the Department of Ecology.

The bill would require the Department of Ecology to make sure the new regulations did not put burdens on low-income drivers.

Ecology would be able to charge transportation companies a fee to cover the costs of implementing the new program.

Despite the potential challenges of getting drivers to invest in a more expensive vehicle, at least one major rideshare company is all for the changes being proposed in the bill.

“Uber has set a goal to have 100% of its rides take place in electric vehicles in the United States, Canada, and Europe by 2030,” said Uber spokesperson Steve Gano during remote testimony.

He went on to explain that Uber has already set aside $800 million to help more of its drivers afford electric vehicles by 2025.

House Bill 1075 passed out of the House Committee on Environment and Energy, and is currently sitting in the House Appropriations Committee. The next step would be to go before the House floor.

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Bill in state Legislature would require Uber, Lyft to have more electric vehicles