8/16/2018New York: Uber Joins Special Interests Pushing For Manhattan Congestion Tax
Uber is dedicating $1 million to back activists and lobbyists pushing for a congestion charge in New York City, New York.
A number of special interest groups are looking to take New York City, New York's famous traffic jams and turn them into cash. The ride-sharing app company Uber is now investing in activist groups and lobbyists to push a $12 tax for drivers entering the Big Apple.
"Like many economists and transit advocates, Uber supports comprehensive congestion pricing," the company explained on its blog on July 30. "It's a serious plan to both tackle congestion and help fix our subways... That's why Uber has publicly committed at least $1 million to support the passage of comprehensive congestion pricing for New York City."
The congestion tax is designed to raise $1.1 billion a year on top of the $569 million a year already generated from parking tickets and traffic violations. The money would be diverted to various transit programs, including the removal of automobile lanes for use by bicycles, further increasing congestion.
City officials blame Uber and competitor Lyft for traffic congestion in the central business district. A city task force counted 202,262 Uber and Lyft trips taken downtown.
"The impact of app-based for-hire vehicles roaming within the central business district is undeniable," the city's advisory panel said in a January report.
While Uber drivers would be subjected to the congestion tax, the cost would be passed along to customers. Uber supports policies to discourage individual car ownership, thereby increasing dependence upon its service.
"We share many of the same goals as the 600 cities we serve, and are committed to addressing the same challenges: reducing individual car ownership, expanding transportation access and helping governments plan future transportation investments," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explained.
The company has experience with the congestion tax with 25,000 licensed Uber drivers operating in London, England. The company handles 3.1 percent of trips within the zone. In Manhattan, however, the company believes more trips will be subjected to the charge.
"Today, more than half of all Uber trips in New York City start outside of Manhattan. In fact, the majority of Uber's growth is coming from the outer boroughs, particularly in neighborhoods historically ignored by yellow cabs and where access to public transit is limited," the company explained.
Uber is also trying to head off efforts by the city council to impose an artificial cap on the number of for-hire vehicles in the city.