Earth Day: Number of electric or wheelchair-accessible Uber, Lyft trips has doubled in past year

Electric vehicle
A Revel electric taxi in 2021.
File Photo by Kevin Duggan

The number of Uber and Lyft trips in electric or wheelchair-accessible vehicles has more than doubled in the past year since the launch of the city’s Green Rides program, according to data from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC).

Data posted April 17 by the TLC shows the number of electric vehicle (EV) and wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) trips completed by Uber, as a proportion of the rideshare behemoth’s total trips in New York City, has risen from 7.31% last January to 18.84% this March. For Lyft, the numbers rose in the same period from 7.8% to 18.09%.

When the industry is taken as a whole, including newer entrants like all-electric Revel, they’ve risen from 7.44% to 18.64% in the past year.

The massive upswing came after the Adams administration announced its “Green Rides” policy last year, requiring all “high-volume” rideshare services — which only applies to Uber and Lyft — to have 100% of their fleets be either electric or wheelchair-accessible by 2030. 5% of Ubers and Lyfts were required to meet the mark as of this year, growing sequentially each year until all must fit the bill by 2030.

The TLC says it is two years ahead of schedule on implementing the regulations; over 2 million zero-emission rideshare trips took place in March, a city record and double what was seen just in January.

“When our city set out to make Green Rides a reality, trading sustainability for accessibility was not an option – and that’s the balance we have struck,” TLC Commissioner David Do said in an Earth Day statement. “With the most EV and WAV trips in our history in the same month, we are proving that ambitious strategies can produce historic results and making this a more livable city for all.”

About 80,000 Uber and Lyft vehicles ferry passengers around the city on a given day, and the growth of the industry in the city has been subject to a hard cap since the de Blasio administration. The Adams administration has sought to do away with the cap on the condition new vehicles are electric, but yellow cab drivers have filed a lawsuit and the program is currently on pause.

The Green Rides program has faced some pushback by disability advocates arguing EV adoption and disability access should not be an “either-or” situation.