Electrify Rideshare: A Just Transition for the For-Hire Vehicle Industry
New York City's for-hire vehicle industry is powered by a 91%-immigrant workforce of over 55,000 drivers, the majority of whom are owner-operators of gas-powered vehicles. This giant fleet puts 1.4 million tons of CO2 in the air annually. Not only the environment pays the price: drivers are pushed into poverty by predatory vehicle financing and high costs of maintenance and fuel. Drivers want to switch to electric vehicles - but chargers are often not located in drivers' neighborhoods in the outer boroughs, and because most drivers live in multi-family homes without garages, home installation is not an option. In addition, immigrant workers' limited English language proficiency and lack of credit history makes accessing federal and state subsidies and vehicle financing difficult. Through partnership with churches in disadvantaged communities, a credit union, and a cooperative of over 3,000 drivers, we will create a scalable model to electrify the for-hire vehicle industry.
We will pilot a scalable model for converting New York City's fleet of 55,000+ gas-powered for-hire vehicles to electric. This fleet is currently owned by a 91%-immigrant workforce of owner-operators, all of whom live in poverty. We will facilitate a conversion of the fleet by expanding an existing partnership between The Drivers Cooperative and the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union (LESPFCU) to help New York City's drivers trade in gas-powered vehicles for electric cars. The Drivers Cooperative is a driver-owned rideshare cooperative that operates a purchasing cooperative to help drivers lower their costs. LESPFCU is a non-profit financial cooperative that specializes in helping low-income immigrant workers access non-extractive financial products. Through this pilot, navigators will help drivers trade in their vehicles for electric cars, access state and federal subsidies, and obtain low-cost loans to cover remaining costs. This will reduce drivers' vehicle costs from ~$1500/month to ~$500/month, lifting potentially tens of thousands of drivers out of poverty.
Through our partnership with Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF), a coalition of over 100 faith organizations in disadvantaged communities, we will site charging stations at churches, synagogues, and mosques in drivers' neighborhoods in the outer boroughs. The charging station network will be owned by a new cooperative entity that will provide discounted rates to for-hire vehicle drivers for charging their vehicles, while bringing in income to low-income congregations to fund social programs in their communities. The United Auto Merchants Association will provide Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification training courses for mechanics in disadvantaged communities to create good jobs maintaining vehicles.