How Lyft is Leading the Future of Rideshare

Lyft Sustainability

Lyft demonstrates an aggressive stance to tackling climate change with their Green Cities Initiative. Acknowledging the role transportation plays in climate change, Lyft took immediate action by creating their carbon offset program, through which they purchase carbon credits to offset emissions from all rides. In September, Lyft expanded the program to make them a fully carbon neutral company. More than just lip service, the program is a multi-million dollar commitment in the first year alone. In addition, they will now purchase enough renewable energy to cover all company electricity consumption.

Setting the Bar for Sustainable Rideshare

In a 2018 interview on the Sustainable Nation Podcast, Sam Arons, the Director of Sustainability for Lyft, acknowledged that "Carbon offsets are not the be all, end all, by any means. We really view carbon offsets as a bridge to a future where fleets of vehicles don't produce any emissions in the first place. [The] carbon offset program is about the very first step and it's something that we could do fairly quickly.” This immediate action is helping position Lyft as an industry leader, distinguishing them from competition. Beyond that, the commitment has aligned the goal of decreased emissions with the financial health of the company itself. Ultimately, as Zimmer and Green recently penned, they have created a strong business incentive to decrease greenhouse gas emissions as, “the more shared rides and clean vehicles on the platform, the fewer carbon offsets we will need to purchase” (Green & Zimmer, 2018). Bottom-line, fewer emissions equals more cost savings for Lyft, a strong incentive to bring about an emissions free fleet.

Dedication to sustainability is nothing new to the co-founders of Lyft who have both cited Paul Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce as having “profoundly influenced the impact we want to have in life. His book demonstrates how industry and environment do not have to be at odds” (Green & Zimmer, 2018). To further integrate this ideology, Green and Zimmer have brought Paul Hawken on as Lyft’s environmental advisor. In the interview for the Sustainable Nation Podcast, Sam Aron reports that Hawken is an “important advocate for this work” when referencing climate impact goals.

In addition to the carbon offsetting program, Lyft has set a goal to support the growth of Lyft Shared rides, aiming to have users choose shared rides for 50% of all trips by 2020 (Lyft Blog, 2018, June 7). By doing so, the objective is to fill empty seats with riders going the same direction, thereby decreasing congestion and emissions.

Evolving Public Transportation Systems

Lyft prides themselves on a history of partnership with public transportation companies, recently furthering their commitment to creating a more seamless and connected transportation network by integrating public transit information directly into the Lyft app with the help of Trafi’s platform. Now available in Santa Monica, CA, users can see nearby transit options, including details about routes and schedules, allowing the users to choose the option best suited to their needs (Lyft Blog, 2018, September 19).

Partnering with established community public transit systems is a sound move in addressing concerns that ride-hailing apps are responsible for an ongoing decline in public transit use. Instead, Lyft is positioning themselves as a complement to existing public infrastructure, addressing transportation challenges like filling first-mile and last-mile gaps with Lyft shared rides and the recent launch of electric scooters in Denver, Santa Monica, and Washington D.C., both of which demonstrate commitment to fewer cars on the road and providing sustainable community mobility without private car ownership.

In the end, Lyft is making good progress towards their overarching goal to have more people in fewer cars and ensure that cleaner vehicles remain on the road through their Green Cities Initiative.


Green , L. & Zimmer, J. (2018) All Lyft Rides Are Now Carbon Neutral. Retrieved from

Lyft Blog. (2018, September, 11). Lyft Commits to Full Carbon Neutrality and 100% Renewable Energy [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Lyft Blog. (2018, June, 7). Lyft’s New App Creates Positive Change for Passengers and Cities [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Lyft Blog. (2018. September 19). Lyft Launches Nearby Transit in Santa Monica to Show Public Transit Routes In-App [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Prigge, J. (Producer and host). (2018). Sam Arons. Director of Sustainability at Lyft [Podcast]. Retrieved from