Do ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft help reduce fossil fuel emissions?
That is what a new study aims to find out. Researchers from UC Berkeley's Transportation Sustainability Research Center and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) announced the joint project on Friday.
"Some hypothesize that on-demand rides encourage people to leave their own cars at home or even get rid of them altogether," Amanda Eaken, the NRDC's deputy director of urban solutions in San Francisco, wrote on the organizations' blog.
"Still, others wonder if these companies are competing with public transit, substituting for walking and biking trips, or perhaps adding more cars to the road. The truth is, no one knows the answers to these questions ... yet."
In September, Uber partnered with Carnegie Mellon University in hopes of advancing driverless car technology. Some academics have claimed a world full of self-driving cars connected to an Uber-like service could reduce fossil fuel use by lessening the time people spend in traffic or looking for parking.
As for the service's current impact, the researches hope to publish the results of their study "early next fall."