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San Diego has been long committed to reducing air emissions and making quality of life better for future generations. One way we can do that is by encouraging carpooling.

Gov. Jerry Brown spoke at a global climate change conference last week about the importance of leading a climate change revolution. “We have to redesign our cities, our homes, our cars, our electrical generation, our grids – all those things,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Brown is right. Global warming is not a future concern, it is happening now. Since 2000, we have experienced 14 of the 15 warmest years on record.

A bill moving through the Legislature, AB 1360 by Assemblyman Phil Ting, recognizes the need to redesign our cities and our mobility systems by encouraging innovations that will further reduce air emissions. It will ensure the vehicle code is consistent with state law and regulations that recognize the uniqueness of so-called Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs. Specifically, the legislation will encourage future carpooling innovation by explicitly allowing TNCs to charge individual fares when multiple passenger parties share a ride. This facilitates shared rides where people are located in a similar location and traveling to similar destinations.

The advent of ridesharing has revolutionized the way we move across our cities. Here in San Diego, hundreds of thousands rely on ridesharing to move around our community. Uber alone has more than 11,000 driver-partners in San Diego, and hundreds of thousands of riders. Lyft has recently reported 1 million rides in San Diego in just the past few months. Most recently, the San Diego Airport Authority, in response to its customers, authorized ridesharing pick-ups at the airport. Rideshare is on the rise in our community.

These technological advances have also developed ways to pair people who are near one another to share a ride to similar destinations. This innovation is a game-changer in the effort to reduce air emissions and traffic congestion. AB 1360 would modernize state law written in the 1960s to encourage future carpooling innovations

Ridesharing services provide opportunities for Californians to share rides, reducing the number of cars on the road and decreasing air pollutants. Some estimates suggest 95 percent of rides can be shared, which would lead to a 40 percent reduction in vehicle miles traveled.

Using new innovative carpooling services like uberPOOL or Lyft Line further allows Californians to save up to 60 percent off normal ride-sharing costs. These services connect riders who are located near each other and who are planning on traveling to nearby destinations. These advances have already been making a difference in reducing vehicles on the road in Los Angeles and San Francisco. And these services will continue to expand as long as new carpooling innovations are further encouraged.

Ridesharing also complements our public transit systems and encourages more Californians to leave their vehicles at home. Ridesharing trips near Metro stations accounted for more than 16 percent of Uber trips that started or ended in Los Angeles. In the Silicon Valley, 22 percent of Lyft rides start or end at one of the area’s Caltrain stations and 24 percent of Lyft’s rides in the San Francisco and East Bay begin or end within near proximity to a BART or Caltrain station.

This bill is consistent with state leaders’ commitment to change reliance on our vehicles and directly leads to helping achieve the governor’s ambitious carbon emission reduction goals.

“Oil, gas, coal have created the wealth we enjoy. What was the source of our wealth now becomes the challenge of our future,” Brown said last week, according to the Times. This is true – and AB 1360 will help reduce reliance on these resources by encouraging carpooling and reducing traffic.

California should also re-examine counterproductive local regulations that prevent traditional taxis from providing innovative transportation choices consumers want. Legislators can follow San Diego’s lead on that front. The city eliminated medallion restrictions, at the urging of the local taxi drivers’ union.

This bill is good for the environment, good for San Diegans and good for our future.

Colin Parent is policy counsel for Circulate San Diego. Parent’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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