Ride-hail trips are 70 percent more polluting than the rides they displace, according to new research from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Nationwide, the number of Transportation Network Company (TNC) vehicles has more than doubled since 2012. In the nine cities where Uber and Lyft ridership is highest, TNC rides contributed to a 180 percent increase in city driving. The increasing impact of TNC vehicles makes them a primary target for electrification and has generated new initiatives in Portland, Seattle, Denver, and New York City as part of the EV Shared Mobility project.
Forth, an electric mobility focused non-profit and project lead in Portland, is capitalizing on their expertise in generating EV awareness to enhance TNC electrification in the region. Through a series of outreach events and convenings, Forth has cultivated direct relationships with TNC drivers in the Portland area and is seeking to establish a network of mentors where current TNC EV drivers can provide information and resources to others in their networks.
In addition to working directly with drivers, Forth has facilitated the execution of EV initiatives from both Uber and Lyft. The organization was a primary partner for the Portland iteration of Uber’s EV Champions Initiative which sought to promote EV awareness and accelerate the number of EV rides on their platform. Following the conclusion of this program in 2018 and a shift in Uber’s focus to other regions, Forth began working with Lyft in their partnership with the electric utility Portland General Electric. This partnership allows EV TNC drivers unlimited charging during off-peak hours at PGE’s Electric Avenue stations through a membership program paid for by Lyft. Forth has helped in the marketing for these stations and initial reports from PGE indicate that TNC drivers account for approximately 50 percent of the total charging at these sites. For their part, PGE has invested almost $5 million in transportation electrification programs which Forth has also contributed promotional resources to.
Another core focus for Forth is increasing access to fair and equitable car financing for TNC drivers from underserved communities. To achieve this, they have launched the Fair Financing Pilot in partnership with local and regional financial institutions. The pilot seeks to provide additional support for marginalized drivers interested in EVs, a group that is positioned to benefit from the rollout of the Charge Ahead Rebate at the state level. This will provide low- to moderate-income drivers a $2,500 cash rebate on top of the $2,500 standard rebate currently available to all drivers as a part of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. Oregon rebates also apply to used and leased vehicles, helping to spur the market for used EVs in the region and encouraging companies such as the Platt Auto Group to partner in the Fair Financing Pilot. Forth is working to address early challenges and is engaging financial partners including a regional bank which may be able to take on riskier borrowers.
Looking ahead, Forth will strengthen what is working and solidify goals as they move into the final phases of the outreach work. The later stages of the campaign will expand to include direct engagement of community organizations, particularly to promote the Fair Financing Pilot. They have a goal of facilitating loans for 10 TNC drivers by the end of 2020. People and communities are Forth’s focus and connecting TNC drivers with critical resources and information around EVs will continue well beyond the project parameters and Portland city limits.