Clean Miles Standard Regulation: Passengers and Communities to Benefit from Lower Emissions with Actions by Transportation Network Companies
California is Taking Your Ride to Zero Emissions
In May 2021, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted a first-of-its-kind rulemaking to cut vehicle emissions from Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft. The use of TNCs over the past decade had exponentially increased prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and is showing signs of growth again. TNCs provide convenience and flexibility for passenger travel and boost the gig economy, but also increase public concerns over excess vehicle miles traveled (VMT), congestion, and the resulting smog and climate change emissions.
The transportation sector, including all passenger cars and light trucks, heavy-duty trucks, off-road vehicles, and the fuels needed to power them, is responsible for more than half of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is also responsible for the majority of smog-causing pollutants and is a significant source of toxic air contaminants that directly impact community health, the environment and the economy.
Specifically, CARB’s Scoping Plan identifies reductions in single-occupancy vehicle travel are necessary to achieve the statewide emissions target of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Even more will be needed to achieve California’s carbon neutrality goal by 2045.
Pursuant to Senate Bill 1014 (Skinner, Chapter 369, Statutes of 2018), CARB is working with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to cut overall emissions from TNC services. With CARB’s vehicle emissions expertise and authority and CPUC’s authority over TNC permits in the state, the Clean Miles Standard is a joint effort to gradually increase zero-emission vehicles used by TNC drivers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The regulation will ensure that passenger miles traveled on TNC platforms become cleaner.
Estimated cumulative statewide emission reductions from the regulation from 2023-2030 are 93 tons of PM2.5, 298 tons NOx and 1.81 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The chart below outlines the annual percent electric VMT (eVMT) target and greenhouse gas target in grams CO2 per passenger mile traveled for the regulation:
Table: Annual percent eVMT and greenhouse gas (GHG) targets
Percent eVMT Target
GHG (g CO2/PMT) Target
TNCs will need to work with their drivers, and where applicable, their partner automated vehicle operators to enable zero-emission vehicle uptake. Compliance options for the greenhouse gas target include vehicle electrification, deadhead mile reduction (reducing miles driven without a passenger), increased shared rides (pooling of passengers) and optional credits.
Optional credits may be earned by TNCs for trips that connect to transit and for investments in active transportation infrastructure such as sidewalks and bike lanes. These actions support alternative modes of travel and help reduce VMT. TNCs may select the strategies that work best for their business model to meet the annual greenhouse gas targets, though they first need to meet the minimum eVMT requirement.
To reduce the risk of adverse cost impacts on TNC drivers, CARB staff used a model to derive electrification targets that would result in a zero-net cost to the driver within one year. The targets also have a slow ramp up in the early years of the regulation and increase in later years, a timeframe in which staff believe makes zero-emission vehicle purchases feasible by the majority of drivers. For more information, see Clean Miles Standard—TNC Driver Fact Sheet.
CARB adopted the regulation in May 2021 and following the CPUC’s finalization of its proceedings to implement the regulation, TNCs must begin complying with the greenhouse gas and eVMT targets. In the first quarter after each compliance year, TNCs must submit an annual compliance summary report.
TNCs with less than or equal to 5 million annual vehicle miles traveled are exempt from the required targets, but must continue to submit annual data as required by CPUC. Once a TNC exceeds 5 million annual miles traveled, it must submit a two-year plan and begin compliance with the targets.
When will I be able to take a zero-emissions ride?
Right now, in select markets. Uber and Lyft have already made announcements about their commitment to fleet electrification and offers “green” rides in select U.S. markets.
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